Should enforcers focus more on traffic violations? FMCSA rep, CSA critic spar over program

| November 13, 2013

inspection csaOutspoken CSA critic and data showman Steve Bryan — head of Vigillo, a data company that helps fleets adjust their CSA scores —  squared off on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., last month, per his usual routine.

Bryan tossed out data backing up the oft-derided state-to-state disparity in enforcement and reporting, along with overwhelming tilt of violations that come in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, which makes up 80 percent of all violations written.


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He then made his way to this point: Why does maintenance receive so much focus? Isn’t it common sense that traffic enforcement — like speeding violations — would more obviously target crash risk?

Overdrive Senior Editor Kevin Jones has a full write-up on the panel discussion on OD sister site CCJ, where Jones writes about the sparring match that took place between Bryan and FMCSA’s Bill Quade,  the agency’s associate administrator for enforcement.

Quade countered Bryan’s pointed attack on CSA’s data problem by saying “Data can be dangerous.”

Quade also said that there are about 10,000 enforcers who know how to inspect a truck in the U.S., while there are about 500,000 cops and enforcers who pull vehicles over for speeding tickets — his point being that truck inspectors should be inspecting trucks, not concentrating on traffic violations.  


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He also said Bryan misuses CSA’s data. 

Bryan, however, countered Quade’s points by saying his group isn’t in the business of gathering data, and that he’s simply dissecting the data FMCSA itself gathers. “I work for the industry and if I see something truckers need to know, I’m likely to say it,” Bryan said. 

Click here to see Jones’ full story. 

Overdrive ran a months-long in-depth series on CSA’s data and its various problems and disparities — Click here to visit the site dedicated to those stories, which also had downloads to show what violations occur most in what states. 

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  • MercenaryMan

    This is where Inspections, and the STICKER should be more permanent, using data a trucks license plate could be entered into a “database’ and then as that truck passes thru a weight station they could easily see the Ispection, its disposition, any comments, and pass that truck thru, concentrating on other trucks that have NEVER been inspected, The sticker they pass out and is on the outside of the front windshield should go on the inside of the Passenger window, and be a little larger, but most of all they should never give an inspection with out one. After 5 inspections in 3 months….I determined this wasnt for safety it was an attempt to find a flaw to levy a ticket…..thats not whats needed in this industry, And I agree, DATA raw data thats compiled from statistics and then some number cruncher says OMG…Weve got an industry problem here….not so if a small percentage of vehicles are racking up the majority of inspections, and totally missing others.

  • bigred

    Targeting is the biggest problem here. Peterbilt`s 379`s (and i drive one and am inspected to death),,,,I have been told I was inspected because of the truck I drive by at least 2 DOT officers and in 20 months I hve been singled out and inspected 15 times now with no traffic tickets, log violations, or accidents so they have resorted to roadside inspections and getting my CSA score up with almost light violations as i drive at night…Gotta say that the taillight on my tractor with a trailer behind me and one old dull tail light and one new bright tail light gets me pullled over quite often….Bullshit

  • johnny dark

    RAW DATA. wow , so that’s the problem. Keeping up with the nation’s burned out marker lights will / will not make the nation’s highways safer. The problem is starting to show itself , and it will come as no surprise to any with a little time on the road. It ain’t now or ever been about safety or accident prevention or whatever term you would like insert. At the policy maker levels it may be , but where the rubber meets the road it is all about money. the inspectors need to do so many to show there bosses they are working and not sleeping under the overpass. It’s about tickets for nonsense , that we all have been apart of or know someone who has. It’s about suspending log book rules during hurricanes. why did he say that? I wonder. Because, if the people on the other side found out their water or food or whatever was only a 10 hour break away , somebody, scratch that a lot of folks would be pissed. How can a driver run 12 hours when the government wants it, but only 11 to feed his family It’s about the powers to be having the story told their way to allow their agenda to be meet. Are Maryland’s roads safer than Idaho’s. Gotta be according to the raw data.

  • mousekiller

    It used to be they thought about citing you for what could be actually called. “likely to cause accident or breakdown”. How in the hell will one light out do either by today’s enforcement mentality? I see far more cars with head lights out or no tail lights and nothing done to them yet one mile down the road a truck is pulled over for the same thing.
    If the real highway safety hazard was targeted 1/3 of the 4 wheelers would disappear off the roads.

    Lets see here. A truck has the DOT mandated number of and location and color of lights on it to be legal. Now Johnny trucker wants to personalize his ride and adds a bunch of lights down the sides and extra across the roof and several more along the sides of the trailer. Now in bad weather that unit is more visible and safer. But one of the non DOT required lights is out and Johnny trucker gets a ticket. That just is not right. Where is the safety issue if it is not one of the DOT required lights that is not working?????

    Dash cams if used properly by truckers could help us prove we are not the bad guys. Got a stupid driver on tape. copy it an send one copy to the HP and the other to a TV station in the area.

    I have not received a sticker for my tractor or trailer for passing an inspection in years. First thing asked of me is how is your Log book.? Then when it is in order they go for an inspection hoping to find something to write a ticket on.

  • mike

    That cop under the truck that never turned a wrench on a truck should be enforcing traffic laws. Put a mechanic in that pit inspecting trucks. CSA is not about safety. It is harassment to the trucking industry. It is not uniform. I think there is a scale in AL. Every state next to AL is aggressive on truck inspections.

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  • Ron

    Let’s see…which one brings in the most money off the trucker,and the trucking company? Let’s write them up for that. It’s called “using the law as an excuse to steal from people”.

  • Trick1

    Since they knocked out 45 minuets out of tour time with the mandatory break, it seems traffic is at an increased rate to make it up, 10, 20 mph over the limit in construction zones seems the norm, I no longer have time to flash a driver to come back over when passed with most cutting in 40-50 feet in front of me, if they do wait longer the 4 wheelers cut in front to pass them on the right. I’ve hit 2 deer from not having a clear conscience of braking hard with someone jammed up my trailer and almost jackknifed from avoiding a 4 wheeler that cut in as a deer jumped. Traffic, pencil pushers rules, sleep studies, split speed limits, the lack of respect, BS shippers and receivers with no public restrooms, outrageous tolls, the BS chaffing airline write ups, if I lose my license I can’t get a ride to work. Maybe the 379’s should put FedEx or Greyhound on the door, they must make some good Gov. contributions. Other then that I love my job.

  • NAIC winner.

    I was a commercial vehicle inspector for 11 years. I do get what some of you are saying, but as an inspector I wasn’t focused on the good drivers much. We used a system called ISS (Inspection selection system) This scores your company by any inspections and violations that ALL drivers from your company gets. So a bad seed in the bunch may get you inspected a lot. As an inspector we were told not to forget the good trucks too, as to maintain your good ISS Score. If some of the drivers that complain about being inspected would actually spend a day at a port of entry and look at some of the junk that rolls in, you would be amazed. I’ve inspected a truck and trailer that took me 3 hrs. to inspect because it had so many violations on it that it had to be flat bedded out of the port. Or to inspect a trucks paperwork and go out to inspect to truck to find that the trailer has collapsed (Broken in two) in your inspection bay. So inspectors might harass drivers but most of the time your just a number for them, nothing personal. And for those of you that think we don’t know anything about the vehicle, we go through extensive training and the pass rate is only about 60%. Not everyone is made to be a commercial vehicle inspector

  • lastgoodusername

    While my rant may have seen a little unfocused , my concerns are not. Inspections are a vital and important part of this industry. Always will be. With that being said, too much emphasis is being placed on the trivial.Couple case in point. And feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
    1. Ohio will write you up if a single diode is burnt out in your led lights.
    2. Doesn’t matter whether the ABS system works or not, as long as the light comes on you are good, or if it doesn’t you are written up.
    3.You will get written up for not having the written instructions on how to operate your E-Logs. personal experience here. the directions for my logs comprise of 5 steps, first step being to hand the device to the inspector and the last being receive device back from officer. The other three tell the inspector to scroll thru the days.
    I am sure there is a legit reason for all these. The problem is that it is becoming more and more nonsense and less and less about common sense. On my side of the war , the truckers , feel that death is coming by a thousand cuts. Overwhelm them will BS until they drown, is the way most of us feel.

    One final thought about safety and the prevention of accidents. Most all traffic lights are computer chip controlled and led. why did highway dept. and the city councils, all over the land, decide that a camera to photo you running a stop light was a better way to improve safety than to incorporate a flashing yellow to inform drivers that light is going to turn, then standardize the time the light would be yellow. MONEY, baby MONEY
    Accident prevention has to begin when the trip begins. why do we only post trip now, and talk of doing away with that. Highway death occurs on the highway, not the inspection bay, sorry. Being a good driver means taking your equipment and doing your job safely . PERIOD. It doesn’t mean a spanking new truck , so a monkey can drive it. It boils down to people , and it also boils down to the enviroment these trucks are operated in. Can’t stop them them big ole trucks in the same space as mom can stop that minivan cause she dropped her lipstick. Eyes on the playing field as well as the locker room will make this a whole lot safer. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.