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Looking Both Ways

Love Those Regulations

By John Mueller, CDS, COSS
Posted May 19th 2014 8:26AM

blog_logo_18.jpgThis post of Looking Both Ways is about roadside inspections, moving violations, crashes and how they affect you and your Carrier. We are now a couple years into CSA and many drivers and Carriers do not understand the basic methodology behind CSA. This blog posting will attempt to help you better understand just exactly how intimate the relationships work between your roadside inspections, your moving violations, crashes, your carrier’s CSA scores, the carriers ISS number and your PSP report. All are truly joined at the hip. It is very important for drivers and carriers to wrap their arms around this information and embrace it.

The “Readers Digest” condensed version:

CSA – Stands for Compliance, Safety and Accountability. A program designed to change the way we view Motor Carrier safety fitness of motor carriers and their drivers.

The 7 Basics of CSA:

· Unsafe Driving

· Hours of Service

· Driver Fitness

· Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing

· Vehicle Maintenance

· HM Compliance and

· Crash Indicator

What are these Basics?

Think of the CSA Basics as “bins” or “buckets”. Each time you receive a violation on a roadside inspection, each time you receive a moving violation, or each time you are involved in a crash while driving your truck, “information” is dropped into that bin or bucket. All the data stored in these basics is used to determine the carrier’s CSA scores, the makeup of the driver’s PSP report, and the carrier’s ISS score.

What Data Counts?

Every violation noted on a roadside inspection gets dropped into one of the Basic buckets which count against the carrier driving up the ISS score of the Carrier. Moving violations are also incorporated into scores of carriers and drivers. Crash information is compiled from all carrier vehicle crashes (regardless of fault).

Good Inspections Count

Roadside inspections showing “No Violations Were Discovered” help the Carriers CSA scores, but not to the extent of eliminating any “bad” inspections. Good inspections affect only the OOS and/or violation percentages like as in the old SMS system of Safer Sys.

Weighted violation points system

CSA is a weighted system where newer more recent violations are weighted and carry a higher “point” value. Violations, tickets and crashes, or “events” as FMCSA refers to them (like a roadside inspection violation is some sort of time of catastrophic or celebratory undertaking), that are less than 6 months old are weighted 3 times the violation value. Those violations that are between 6 months and 12 months are weighted at twice the violation value and only those violations that are between 12 to 24 months are weighted at actual face value for the violation. What does this all mean? It means that the “older” violations that coming off of a Carriers CSA scores cannot possibly offset the new points that are being “assigned” to the carrier if the carrier continues to accrue similar violations at the same rate. Carriers cannot possibly improve their CSA scores without a very significant decrease in the number of roadside violations and moving violations. CSA is the safety measurement program for Carriers.

PSP Reports

PSP reports compile all roadside inspection violations for a three year period and crash data for a five year period on individual drivers. This report contains information from all roadside inspections and crash info for any and all carriers that the driver drove for during the stated time periods.

Every violation is directed to the driver’s PSP report. Carriers may elect to use the PSP report in the hiring process of drivers – and most do. Carriers see every roadside inspection violation individual drivers have had in the past three years, for every carrier the driver has driven for. The PSP contains a “violations summary”. The carrier can view the summary to see the total number of each violation the driver has had at all carriers combined. Carriers know the types of violations individual drivers are likely to incur in the future from this summary due to “violation frequency”.

You can obtain a copy of your PSP report from the following website:

The PSP report does not list violation severity “points” for each violation. PSP reports are NOT generally viewed in terms of “points” against a driver. Some drivers just think in terms of “points” and talk about “CSA points”. If a driver wishes to calculate “points” they have on their PSP record you can find the severity weighting for each violation at the following link:

You can search for “points” between the Basics by clicking on the appropriate tab at the top of the page. This link will take you to the Fatigued Driving tab. You will see links listed for Controlled Substance, Vehicle Maintenance and the other Basics. If calculating points is important to you, be sure to multiply the points for every violation by the weighted factor by age of each violation.

Drivers – please take the time to order a copy of your PSP report and review it for accuracy. There is a $10 fee each time your request a copy. You can obtain your PSP report at:

Additional information on PSP is available to drivers from this website. Check out the FAQ’s.

Should your report be inaccurate you can request correction by filing a contest through Data Q’s.

The website for DataQ’s is:

Remember, PSP is a safety measurement program on drivers.

What is ISS?

ISS – Inspection Selection System assigns a numerical rating to every motor carrier based on the carrier’s CSA scores and prior inspection information. The higher the number, the more likely roadside inspectors will inspect that carrier’s vehicles. The roadside inspector simply types in the DOT number from the side of the truck and is instantly given the ISS of the carrier. If the number falls between 75 and 100, then the inspector is given the direction to inspect the vehicle. If the ISS is 50 to 74 the inspector is given the “Optional” directive. If the ISS of the carrier shows as 1 -49 the inspector is given the “pass” directive and will not usually conduct an inspection unless he or she notices an obvious defect as the vehicle is passing through the scale or inspection station.

If the carrier you operate for has a “high” ISS number you will surely be inspected on a more frequent basis. Think about this statement: “the drivers that operate for the company – your peers – affect how frequently you and your vehicle are inspected”. Good carriers will share their ISS with their drivers. The drivers and carrier working as a team can effectively manage the ISS number. The ISS score is not affected by the use of Pre-pass transponders. A high ISS score may still cause a carrier’s vehicles to be inspected, even if those vehicles are equipped with Pre-pass.

How can you help improve your carriers CSA Basic scores?

The easiest way to get better BASIC Scores (as a carrier or as a driver) is to get good inspections. In five of the BASICs, this will make an immediate difference due to the “violation free” inspections being used directly in the calculations. In the Unsafe Driving and Crash basics, good inspections do not help in the math, but they don’t hurt you either since there is no violation to bring into the BASICs for scoring.

Tips For Drivers:

· Drivers should perform thorough pre-trip inspections each day. Repair any defects found in the pre-trip prior to moving the vehicle. Eliminating detectible vehicle defects will eliminate needless vehicle maintenance violations.

· Keep your logbook current. “Drivers record of duty status not current” is one of the most frequently cited violations, and one of the most senseless violations. Update your logbook each time your duty status changes. This also means to update log at least once every 4 hours.

· Maintain a professional image and attitude

· Orderly and organized – Driver, vehicle and paperwork. Keep yourself, your truck and your paperwork including your permit book well organized.

All of the above tips will assist in:

Lowering your carriers CSA scores;

Keeping your PSP Report attractive to potential carriers or employers;

Positively affecting Pre-pass usage for you and other drivers in your carrier fleet;

Assist you with Roadcheck 2014 coming June 3 through 5, 2014; and

Lowering your carriers CSA scores.

FMCSA and the CSA program are looking for a long term, committed relationship with you. Your bond with CSA will surely grow in the future – through good times and in bad times. Learn about CSA so you are aware of its pet peeves and make it easier on yourself. Be a sensitive driver. Remember it’s a two-way-street.

Feel free to post questions you may have about the material covered in this blog. I will attempt to provide you with accurate information.

Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.

Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!

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©John Mueller, CDS, COSS


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