Can you believe it has been over five years since the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety-monitoring system was rolled out? You would think everyone would be used to it right now, yet it still it bedevils many a fleet manager. Fortunately, we’re here to dissect it for you.
CSA is a complicated structure. It has a methodology that tries to paint an accurate – and actionable – picture out of various disparate elements and seemingly unrelated factors. It’s a lumbering system that tries to put a pinpoint shot onto a moving target.
Where Are We On CSA?
The fact is, CSA scores and Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICS) are meant to distinguish carriers that operate safely from those who do not. On the flipside, some argue that the scores inaccurately portray some carriers as “unsafe” for the simple reason that the scoring method is heavily weighted to violations, no matter how many clean inspections said carrier may have to their credit.
While a provision in the 2015 highway bill did force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) to remove the CSA scores from public view, is that just a temporary fix? Indeed, some scores may stay down until a Transportation Research Board (TRB) report is commissioned.
Fortunately, the agency has been mandated to create said report within 18 months of the passing of the highway bill. The agency must submit a report to Congress and, 120 days later, be able to supply a so-called “corrective action plan”. The plan should be designed to address any deficiencies found within the study.
Even so, the inspection data that drives CSA remains publicly visible. Percentile ranks and alerts are still available to fleets and law enforcement can prioritize their actions around CSA scores.
The best way a fleet can ensure its safety profile accurately reflects the nature of the business is to promote measures that bring down the types of violations that drive up CSA scores, and not just in numbers, but in their severity and frequency as well.
First, focus on what is most in your control: Vehicle maintenance. Always make sure you are completing and documenting any and all annual inspections of trucks and trailers. Additionally, make sure you have as many technicians as you need, and in some cases maybe one or two more.
More technicians mean more inspections. Technicians can also help to train the drivers on how to conduct proper pre- and post-trip inspections. Having shop guys on the ready when pre- and post-trip inspection data is relayed is necessary best practice.
Don’t solely focus on hours of service violations to bring your CSAs down. Remember that improving equipment maintenance also goes a long way to lowering your CSA score.
Have you made the technological migration yet? While the vast majority of truck drivers go above and beyond what is necessary to ensure safety, some still get dinged for not properly tracking hours or missing or incomplete inspections.
It’s a lot harder to keep accurate track of your fleet’s safety performance measures if you are using paper logs. Switch to telematics and take the headache out of tracking safety measures and potential performance issues.
Have you considered in-cab video systems? Safety-conscious drivers enjoy the positive reinforcement when their performance measures up, and video systems help propagate the “safety effect”. They move fleets beyond just monitoring drivers, but assist in addressing behavioral aspects as well.
When used properly, technology can be an incredibly useful tool in the effort to keep your safety profiles and CSA scores in tip-top shape. And with the ELD mandate coming in 2017, fleets will have no more reason to stay sitting on the technological fence.