Some readers show favor for the public visibility of CSA’s carrier scores

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Though majorities of Overdrive readers have in recent times come down in favor of removing the percentile rankings and some associated data computed in the CSA Safety Measurement System from public view, the debate over the scores’ public availability is not one-sided. Some drivers, more and more, are utilizing the CSA Safety Measurement System as a tool to determine which carriers to work with or for. Such readers have been vocal following the large majority of trucking trade associations’ call for CSA scores removal. Those associations and other stakeholders were recently joined by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance in that call, as reported here last Friday.

The broad coalitions calling for CSA scores’ removal from view cite the often clear lack of correlation between an individual carrier’s scores and that carrier’s crash likelihood as principle in their reasoning, among other points made about the system. The concerns track closely to CSA problems that have been identified in the pages of Overdrive over the last several years and which result in what many view as a confusing picture of a motor carrier large or small, one that the general public (including brokers and shippers), hungry for data, uses to make judgments. The reliability of the scoring for such purposes — when business is on the line — readers ranked No. 1 in a list of problems that began this year’s CSA’s Fallout series of reports in June (find all of those reports at this link).

At once, as illustrated by the above poll results, nearly a third of readers say no to removing scores from public view.

Driver Tommy Wade, commenting recently in the Overdrive’s Trucking Pro group at LinkedIn.com, noted he found it interesting that transport industry concerns believe “it is not fair to post those scores…. This industry doesn’t like to be treated the same way that they treat their drivers,” citing preventable/nonpreventable accident determinations, among a variety of data shared among employing carriers and in the public sphere in some instances.

Others pointed to the employment and inspection/violation histories available to carriers in, respectively, DAC Reports and the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program, the latter of which details drivers’ inspection/violation history for potential employers but doesn’t present a “score” like the CSA SMS does for carriers.

A reader posting as Diamondback Dave at OverdriveOnline.com called hiding carrier SMS scores “outrageous,” adding that he used the SMS data to “weed out the worst companies to drive for. They want our five-year MVR. Why can’t we see that they force drivers to drive past their hours limits or the fact that the company or owner will not repair their equipment?”

Aaron Mutulo: “Seriously, the issue with carriers’ cumulative CSA scores is way less corrupt than what these carriers do to drivers. A few years ago I was fired after having to go to the ER and was given verbal permission to bobtail to my house because I did not have a car at the yard to take to the doctor. They put on my DAC ‘blatant disregard of a simple company policy.’ In court the judge stated that my actions are to be considered a simple mistake.” The carrier still refused to change the report, Mutulo said.

Brian Carlson: “No hiding. … Drivers are excoriated every day of their lives for their driving records, some blackballed for even the most marginal of incidents…. Some companies should be shut down due to the form of business they conduct. Often they are the culprit and the driver base just goes down with the ship. Shine the light on them.”

As Wade added, “Help me to remember the word that describes people that don’t want to be treated the same way that they treat others.”

Removing the CSA SMS in total from public view would make access to carrier inspection and violation data more difficult, however a removal just of the percentile rankings, or “scores,” in the SMS might leave behind the raw data for public consumption, depending on how FMCSA were to proceed and whether Congress was involved and what it ultimately directed to be changed. Personally, while I don’t know that I’d call the concern with the public view hypocrisy all around, it’s notable that none of the stakeholders’ letters to DOT calling for the CSA SMS scores’ removal from public view mentions the Pre-Employment Screening Program. While the SMS and the PSP program rely on the same base data, by and large, the difference between the two systems lies in access. To access a driver’s PSP report, driver consent to the release of information is required, given its ties to an individual’s identity. Such consent to release, as most drivers who’ve applied for a job or gone through a new a lease agreement recently will know, can be a condition of that lease or employment, leaving drivers with little recourse to protect such information if they want to work. There is a lawsuit on the books, filed earlier in the year, over the extent of the data included on PSP reports.

At the same time, if all the efforts of late were successful and carrier inspection and violation data was ultimately put back behind the curtain along with the ranking/scoring portion of the SMS, there’d be more behind an argument for doing the same for driver-specific inspection/violation data as well by eliminating its availability via the PSP program.

What do you think?

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