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More CSA Blues; This Time Affecting Major Expedite Carriers

Discussion in 'General Expediter Forum' started by ATeam, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    I just finished reading the Todd Dills, Overdrive magazine articles: Losing the golden triangle: More proof shippers (mis)use CSA and Oral arguments set for CSA suit.

    I urge those expediters who still think CSA is a good idea to revisit your opinion. Major expedite carriers have been negatively affected by this rating system that is looking increasingly nuts.

    The second piece reports Panther Panther Expedited Service’s Government/CSA Qualification Coordinator Irwin Shires' presentation at the Expedite Expo.

    It seems that Panther, having "earned" a golden triangle, has been hurt by these ratings. A quick check of the FedEx Custom Critical SMS scores shows that under the CSA program, that carrier is now the owner of not one but two dreaded golden triangles. Are they deserved? Probably not, but the CSA enthusiasts would say, "Absolutely, yes, they are deserved. The violations happened. Go CSA! Go FMCSA! It's about safety. What could be more important?

    Whether they are meaningful (ridiculous) or not, these symbols on the FMCSA web site are having direct and negative impacts on YOU and your carrier if you happen to be leased to a golden triangle carrier. You may see it when you get pulled in for inspections more often. Or you may not see it but you may feel it when shippers shun golden-triangle carriers for those with "better" safety records.

    I was an early supporter of the CSA program. It looked good on paper, but now seeing how unrealistic the scoring system has become while becoming increasingly more harmful to undeserving carriers and their innocent contractors, I say, CSA go away!

    TeamCaffee, you have a direct connection to FMCSA administrator Anne Farro. Can you find it within you to move beyond your praise of the FMCSA listening sessions and somehow get it into Farro's head that this program is becoming increasingly bogus and harmful? Harmful even to an exemplary professional like you who contracts with a safety-first carrier.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  2. TeamCaffee

    TeamCaffee Administrator Staff Member

    Straight Truck
    This line by Irwin said a lot to me:

    Carriers who successfully manage CSA, Shires said, will get drivers on board. “It has to be a united effort between drivers and carriers until, and if, we can get this system removed from public view.

    Think about why scores are going up?
  3. layoutshooter

    layoutshooter New Recruit

    CSA is, at it's best, a bad system. Any system that is based on the negative is doomed to failure.

    CSA is solely based on demerit and punishment vs. merit and reward. A "perfect" roadside Level 1 counts for NOTHING while a minor infraction can count for many points against a driver and carrier. One equipment failure while on a run can totally erase years of hard work.

    Most good parents and dog trainers know that a reward system, based on positive accomplishment works far better than punishment. CSA, as with all demerit/punishment systems, work against human nature.

    CSA, as everything else FMSCA is involved in, has nothing to do with safety.
  4. moose

    moose New Recruit

    because officers will plant violations. {see team run smart}
    because a C.A scale house not case cop will tell a driver that in 20 years he never let a truck with out a violation and he sure as hell not going to do it today.
    because a DOT cop will find a micro/hair wide crack in a break shoe and place a truck OOS. because an Montana scalehouse will give drivers an OOS overweigh ticket for running wide base tires.
    because the CSA score designed to take the upmost safe/experience truckers off the road.
    do not say it will not happen to you, because it did & it will.
    if you only provide us with the right connection to miss. Farro we will tell her why.
  5. bubblehead

    bubblehead Active Expediter

    Could it be the CSA/FMCSA is doing what the industries/carriers refuse to do. It appears that many carriers are employing a "DUMB DOWN" tactic to get drivers ACAP (As Cheap As Possible). Drive out the highest most skilled (and expensive) drivers, replace them with CCs (Cheap Charlies) and just keep that revolving door revolving. The bean counters know what the tolerances would be , like the Ford Motor cases involving the 'Pinto and later the 'Crown Vic'...and many other products and industries.

    If a Carrier can force flat rate, then they can better control their margins since they can control/change what that flat rate would be. This "flat rate" then really isn't a flat rate but it gives the drivers a since of security until they see a downward trend on their flat rate which results in them leaving and so goes that revolving door spinning even faster.

    So comes the CSA program. Seeing trends in this industry and extracting data from accidents that clearly show equipment not being taken care of and other violations.... And the industry still driving the pay and driver quality downward. The effect of the CSA might just force carriers to clean up or shut down.

    The simple fact is, it cost money to operate this business and in the expedite/exclusive use niche, it is not nor never should be a volume "drive the wheels off" game.

    When you operate as a contractor and you are barely making what the "company guy" is bringing home then you have failed yourself and have been abused by the industry. Think why companies even use contractors in the first place! Not just trucking, but in any industry. Take Cargill for example. When studied as to why they use contractors/chicken farmers the benefits included; flexibility of market, better management of market, and that the asset "idle time" was borne at the expense of the contractors. Remember idle time of an asset is an expense also. Note: When I get some time, I will find and reference that report and edit here.

    I would contract with the ATEAM, CAFEE team, MOOSE over the Cheap Charlies. I know it would cost me more but my valued property will be properly taken care of. (So the real cost will probably be less). This is not the industry to "WALMART." Cheaper really isn't better.

    Carriers, stop disrespecting our time and stop disrespecting our asset! In return, you get the best most professional drivers this country has to offer.

    That is my "revisit" sorry about the the rambling.
  6. Monty

    Monty New Recruit

    That is EXACTLY why I left the old Roberts Express, after Roadway Services, then Caliber, took it upon themselves to penalize everything, (so it seemed).

    An example was the signage, if I "chose not" to have the advertising on my truck, I lost 3%. Why not reward with an ADDITIONAL 3% if did place them on the vehicle?

    This penalty vs rewards is childish. If I'm worth my effort, why should I be a cheerleader?
  7. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    When you say "going up" do you mean improving as with lower SMS numbers among carrriers overall, or do you mean higher SMS numbers among carriers overall?

    I am beginning to put more thought into the CSA/SMS rating system and the answer to your question depends on what you mean by "going up."
  8. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    Before CSA went into effect, did FedEx Custom Critical have a need to clean up? Was it not already a good safety company? But now, under CSA, this carrier has "earned" two golden triangles, symbols on the FMCSA web site that shippers are increasingly using as warnings to avoid golden-triangle carriers.

    FedEx Custom Critical has made the transition to electronic logging. It has beefed up its safety staff by adding a (I don't know the official title) guy who totes a dog whistle and inspects trucks in the field and coaches contractors on CSA and safety issues. But under the CSA scoring system, the company looks to an increasing number of shippers like an on-road crime wave to be avoided.

    Shipper use of SMS scores and avoidance of golden-triangle carriers is becoming increasingly serious because of the notion of extended liability that is taking root in the shipper and broker community. The notion is that if a bad accident happens, the victim sues not only the carrier but the shipper too, who, in theory, could have known and should have known that they helped put this unsafe truck on the road by hiring a golden-triangle carrier.

    This is not a made-up thing. I have personally talked to shippers and brokers who now make a systematic effort to select the carriers they use based in part on SMS scores. And if, in their judgement, the scores are "bad" enough, the carrier avoid decision will be made entirely on those scores.

    It is not just the driver quality that gets affected by CSA. Good quality carriers that are proactively safe are now being tagged with harmful golden triangles. And these triangles come not just because a certain number of violations happened or because the carrier failed to improve its CSA score. They happen partly for those reasons, but also partly because carriers are scored against each other on a relative sliding scale, and because part of the scoring system is simply nuts. It has no connection to the realities of how safe a carrier actually is every day on the road.

    In theory, you could take a carrier like FedEx Custom Critical, cut its fleet size in half to eliminate the bad half (occasional violations) and keep the good half (no violations ever, if there is such a thing), but doing so would not render the carrier immune from golden triangles, because the scoring system that produces these symbols is itself flawed.

    The people at FMCSA have put a great deal of time and effort into creating and defending this system. It has become part of its bureaucratic DNA and is now being defended, not for its actual impact on safety, but for its own sake. It exists, therefore it should exist. My FMCSA job depends on this system, therfore the system is good. It does not matter that the scoring system is fundamentally and unfairly flawed. It matters only that we are seeing carrier improvements under the scoring systems. Better numbers industry-wide are good, no matter how bogus the system is that produces those numbers.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  9. davekc

    davekc Senior Moderator Staff Member Fleet Owner

    There are two issues driving those numbers. With a constant pressure to reduce rates by carriers, trucks are becoming increasingly older than years past. That adds to that vulnerability. Another byproduct of government regulations that put new equipment purchases out of the reach of many. New and less trained drivers doesn't help either. But...they are in demand because they have cleaner least initially.
    The other issue is state budgets that foster a revenue producing entity. Only a fool would believe that many aren't operating on a quota of sorts.
    Put those several things together and bam. CSA was bad at the beginning, and no better today.
  10. jelliott

    jelliott Expert Expediter

    Fleet of many types!
    1) You can not grade safety on a curve.
    2) The straight truck peer group is flawed. Take HOS for instance. Companies are peer grouped. Well when the vast majority of the straight truck group (coke, office max, pepsi, home depot, staples, landscapers) don't run over the road logs and rarely cross scales, it is next to impossible to score well. Take a look at sms numbers versus the CSA numbers. When you remove the peer grouping you have companies scoring half the national average in areas, yet they have triangles? The methodology is flawed.

    I am all for real things that improve safety, I am not confident CSA is one of them.
  11. paullud

    paullud Expert Expediter

    The peer grouping is just another item on a very long list of items to show that the government has no idea what they are doing. How can they possibly consider local delivery guys to be the same as an OTR driver?

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using EO Forums mobile app
  12. JohnMueller

    JohnMueller Moderator Staff Member

    Wow! So many good points made by the community.

    I'm just going to make a few points about CSA as food for thought:

    * The FMCSA rules (49CFR) have not changed one bit due to the initiation of CSA. These are the same rules that existed before.

    *Carriers are expected to abide by these regulations (49CFR).

    *Drivers are expected to abide by these regulations (49CFR).

    *Carriers are responsible for their drivers actions, whether the drivers are company employees or owner operators.

    *Prior to CSA, the SMS measured only Out of Service Violations (Driver, Vehicle and Hazmat) as a percentage compared to the National average.

    *Under CSA, the SMS measures and records all violations discovered in roadside inspections. These are violations of any of the rules contained in 49CFR. Now please re-read the first four (4) bullet points above.

    Folks complain that the new program is unfair or not working right. Please ask yourself if you can honestly state that you have performed your job as stated in the regulations? I say this because many violations I see that adversely affect my company are caused by folks just not doing their job. This is the same job that they agreed to do per their Motor Vehicle Lease Agreement. When numerous violations show "Logbook Not Current" or "Required Lamp - Right Front Turn Indicator" which is followed on the next line on the same roadside inspection with Required Lamp - Left Rear ..." I find it very hard to believe that both of those lights burned out after you performed that required Pre-trip inspection.

    The new program is simply tracking all of OUR violations - not just those severe enough to warrant being placed Out of Service. It is what it is - either you violated a rule or you didn't.

    I do not like many aspects of the new program. I really do not like the weighted system. It makes it very hard to show improvement when old violations and new violations are not treated equally.

    Just a little CYA goes a long way in protecting and preserving good safety programs by drivers and carriers under this new system.
  13. usafk9

    usafk9 Seasoned Expediter

    Terry's title is Field Safety Liaison, which is exactly how you stated it in the thread you started in 2010 regarding a fair warning to White Glove dog owners. I believe Terry does a pretty righteous job not only being a face for FedEx in the field (in which is otherwise a mostly no-face-contact business), but also in guiding drivers or contractors to become or stay professional, safe vehicle operators. To state you don't know what his title is, is false.

    Disclaimer : Myrian and I do not own shares of XPO.
  14. davekc

    davekc Senior Moderator Staff Member Fleet Owner

    I think the issue is the scoring method which John mentioned. Or of course goofy stuff like mudflaps being a inch too long or too short Yes, it happened in Texas on a new truck). Not all states are on the same page.
    Also had some supposed oil on a wheel in Georgia. Truck put out of service and road service called. They get there and say every thing is fine and sign off. Still wasted 200 bucks on a worthless road call. If they want to find something, they will or create one.

    On a side note, I have to think Terry is doing more than checking for doggies. With more new people out there that have limited experience, the need for his position will likely increase.
    Between using "virtual technician" and a second set of safety eyes, as a fleet owner, you can put out alot of fires before they get going.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  15. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    At one time I knew the title and as time passed, I forgot it. So when I said in a recent post that I do not know his title, it was true.

    That brings us back to the main point. With FedEx Custom Critical taking proactive and additional safety steps such as adding a Field Safety Liason and moving from paper logs to EOBR's, why do they look worse now (branded with two golden-triangles) than when the CSA/SMS scores were first published?

    I do not believe it is because the company has relaxed its safety approach. I believe it is because the CSA/SMS rules are fundamentally flawed.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  16. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    All true. And there is no question that drivers are expected to do the very same job under CFR49 today as they were expcected to do before CSA was brought into being. Shame on a driver who drives down the road with two lights out. That's basic stuff that should be easy to get right.

    It is also true that drivers do their jobs and still get hit with violations.

    Example 1: The driver who got a flat tire and pulled off the road to wait for road service and a cop tagged him with a violation (reported in Land Line magazine).

    Example 2: The driver who did a pretrip inspection but got tagged with a loose truck body U-bolt that the scale cop "found" by using a long pry bar and great deal of force.

    Example 3: This happened to me personally. Fleet owner directs me to go to a scale for voluntary inspection. Cop takes offense at fleet owner trying to use him for a free inspection and finds and cites a loose U-bolt that he could not show me and the shop we wen to later could not find.

    Example 4: Driver is doing his or her job exactly and is struck by a four-wheeler who is totally at fault and the driver is totally innocent. Nevertheless the event counts against the driver and carrier because the rules say it does.

    Example 5: Lights really do burn out after you do a pre-trip and while you are driving. You can mitigate this by doing walk arounds at every fuel stop and keeping a close eye on all things 49CFR, but there are times when no matter how well you do, you can still get cited.

    Example 6: This is new under the new rules. Driver doing his job is on duty or driving for 6 hours and intends to take 30 minute break at next rest area. Traffic accident ahead closed freeway for more than 2 hours, making it impossible for driver to leave the road or park legally to take a break. After 8 hours, driver is in violation and there is no relief in the rules to address it. In that circumstance, it is literally impossible for the driver to do his or her job and comply with 49CFR. Driver either has to falsify log (which is itself a violation) or log the violation and risk getting fined up to $2,750 and the carrier getting fined $11,000 for failing to take and log a 30 minute break.

    There are many more examples. That takes nothing away from your CYA and driver-responsibility points. It is still very sad to see dozens of drivers wake up at a truck stop and drive off without even walking around their truck to see if there is debris under their truck, and it is sadder still to see them driving off without doing anything that even hints at a PTI.

    Just as FMCSA bureaucrats turn a blind eye to safety reality and embrace instead new rules for the new rule's sake, there are drivers who turn a blind eye to safety and operate under the idea that if you don't get caught, it's OK.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  17. bubblehead

    bubblehead Active Expediter

    So if the industry wants "professional drivers" then pay a rate that supports the same and you, the Carrier can be assured to retain the "best and brightest" in the industry.

    If I need an organ transplant, I am not going to my local butcher for the service (although I could get him at a fraction of the cost of a skilled Physician) who is licensed and state certified in his field of expertise.

    This industry is rife with fraud and abuses that fall ultimately on the well intended professional driver. When the government had to step in and shut down driving schools because of fraud, it was a reaction needed because of the abuses of the industry. When companies and owners suggested, encouraged or forced drivers to falsify logs, this pressured some the true professional drivers to do likewise in order to keep their livelihood...the government is/has stepped in to force compliance.

    When CSA and electronic logging became an issue, did we not see a jump in the under 10,000# population and the Penske group? I don't think this had anything to do with an increase in market demand but more of entities within the industry restructuring their business model to avoid the CSA initiatives.

    Lets get real. Yes over zealous LEOs in any field are problematic. Voice your concerns loud and clear and challenge these abuses. Phil, did you or the owner file an appeal and presented your proof on the U-bolt issue? You certainly went through a lot of trouble to locate the non-loose loose u-bolt so you would have had a valid case. I have challenged and won against wrongful LEOs in the past and will continue to do so if confronted by an incompetent or unlawful LEO.

    Bottom line is although this FORUM is a nice place to exchange ideas, nothing will happen within. Stuff will keep happening to drivers because of our independent nature. Without any cohesion and organized lobbying, we will continue to be the low pawn in this industry.
  18. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    Thought you were talking about the fast food industry... Same school of thought
  19. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    We were new in the industry at the time. There was no fine that we knew of, or if there was, we did not pay it, the fleet owner did. He did not challenge the citation or encourage us to. At the time, before CSA, this was not an out of service violation and was viewed as inconsequential. New to the game, we did not know how to view it. Once the shop charged the fleet owner to inspect the truck, and retorque all U-bolts, the carrier received a copy of the invoice and that was that.

    Now, in the post-CSA world, challenging any violation that was wrongfully cited is important to do, and I don't know what to say about driving in for a voluntary inspection at a scale any more.[/QUOTE]
  20. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    Just another thought about the CSA regime.

    In the spirit of drivers doing our jobs, and in the spirit of CSA compliance, Diane and I keep an inventory of our truck lamps (lights). We have a spreadsheet that lists each lamp on the truck, its manufacturer and its part number.

    It is our practice to keep at least one spare lamp stored in the truck for each required lamp tuck has and most other lamps. We have a total of 165 lamps on the truck. Our lamp inventory has 28 part numbers. Not all of these lamps are required but it is nice to have spares for each just the same.

    This is a practice we developed after CSA came into being. I have the tools and mechanical skills to repair or replace any lamp on the truck (unless it is a tricky wiring problem that may put the truck in the shop). We keep the tools and spare lamps in places that can be reached when we are under load and the box is sealed. If a required lamp goes out, we try to make the repair as soon as safely and practically possible if not immediately.

    But what about drivers who do not have the skills to change a light bulb (no joke, some bulbs are not easy reach, let alone replace)? What does a driver who is supposed to obey all regs do when a light burns out and the only way to get it fixed is to keep on driving until a service facility can be reached?

    How important will it eventually become to keep CSA scores low by fixing burned out lamps immediately, even if it means parking the truck when a bulb burns out, delaying a delivery, and calling road service to make the repair?

    Might CSA eventually come to that? The relative scoring system is moving the industry in that direction right now. How far will it be allowed to go? If it is allowed to continue in this fashion, how long will it be before the industry is crippled by CSA?
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

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