CSA and Commercial Drivers

By now most companies are familiar with what CSA is and how it will affect their company. However, when it comes to commercial drivers they are still unaware of the affects until it is potentially too late.

But not all commercial driver information is CSA related. There are several different areas of the DOT and FMCSA in relation to safety. Be sure that you know what applies to you as a driver and the company you work for. Do not leave the responsibility up to someone else. This can be the downfall of some good drivers. Know who you work for, just as they want to know who is working for them.

When applying to a company do you as driver pull the DOT number and the safety score of the company you are potentially going to work for? If you do, do you know what you are looking at? What are your risks as a driver?

Think about this, you apply to a company and they have a vehicle maintenance percentage on the BASIC score of 96% and a BASIC score of driver fatigue at 83%. What does this potentially do to you as a driver?

First, these high thresholds are opening the door for a DOT audit, which always puts even the best of companies in a tail spin. Second, more frequent roadside stops opening up doors for violations on your own safety score as well as the company.

A company is as good as its drivers and the drivers are only as good as their equipment. If you as a driver are not driving equipment that is properly maintained and may not be safe, you are setting yourself up. Eliminate the risk of your job and your life. Know what to do, and how to protect yourself in all cases.

Here is some information that can potentially save you and your safety score as a driver. Know where to get your information as a commercial driver.

What CSA means for Commercial Drivers!

CSA puts more emphasis on drivers than the previous enforcement model:

  • ALL violations found during roadside inspections count toward carrier and driver safety measurement according to vehicle or driver violation type.
  • •BASIC information/scores are sent to roadside inspectors as a tool in the decision of whether to inspect and what level to inspect a specific CMV
    • –Roadside inspectors see carrier information/scores
    • –Roadside inspectors do not see driver measurement information

Safety Investigators will be able to see the safety performance history of drivers when they are conducting a carrier investigation

  • •This information is not available to carriers
  • •Safety profile includes the entire history of the driver
  • •Safety profile is a tool for investigators to use in sampling and to issue NOCs/NOVs to drivers based on performance
  • •Drivers are not rated (i.e. unfit) under CSA
  • Pre-employment Screening program (PSP)

PSP was mandated by Congress under SAFETEA-LU

  • •PSP is not a part of CSA
  • •“Driver Profiles” from FMCSA’s Driver Information Resource (DIR) are available to carriers through PSP http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov/Pages/default.aspx
  • •Driver Profiles are only released with driver authorization
  • •Drivers are able to obtain their own driver information record
  • •PSP is currently available, access and additional information can be found at www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov

What can driver do now?

Frequently asked questions http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQs.aspx

For more information contact us and see how we can help you as a commercial driver and as a company info@thetruckingva.com or visit www.thetruckingva.com

The Improved CSA Website

July 22, 2011


You Talked, We Listened … Visit the Improved CSA Website and See What’s Changed!

Since the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Website launched in August of 2008, we have directly responded to more than 6,500 questions from motor carriers, drivers, and others in the commercial vehicle safety industry.  In response to our visitors’ feedback, we improved several areas on the CSA Website in order to support stakeholders’ efforts to increase safety on the nation’s roads . http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/whats_New.aspx#33411

FMCSA Sends First Wave of CSA Warning Letters!

FMCSA sends first wave of CSA warning letters
Friday, March 11, 2011 – Alabama Trucker, Ford Boswell

As of March 1, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has begun issuing its first wave of Compliance, Safety, Accountability program warning letters to motor carriers with deficient scores in one or more of the program’s Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs.

According to FMCSA officials, more than 6,000 letters have already gone out across the country and more than 200 have been mailed to carriers based in Alabama.

American Trucking Associations safety officials recently told Transport Topics that the FMCSA, over the next several months, will send more than 50,000 warning letters that alert carriers that their performance is substandard in at least one BASIC and that immediate action is needed to fall back into the agency’s grace.

This isn’t news to anyone in the industry, of course, but it can be stressful to find one of these letters in the mail. It should be remembered, however, that getting one of these letters isn’t a question of a carrier’s professionalism or commitment to safe operations. Rather, fleet managers should take heed and work immediately in the areas of their operation deemed deficient. Warning letters can be followed by off-site and/or on-site investigations if compliance doesn’t improve, and also be mindful that carriers who receive letters are subject to increased roadside inspections.

If you do get a letter, however, don’t panic. It will be clear and to the point about which BASIC(s) you need to improve. It will also outline consequences of continued safety problems. A warning letter provides instructions for accessing motor carrier safety data in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) as well as a point-of-contact for additional information.

In the meantime, the FMCSA has released a tip sheetto answers questions about a warning letter such as what it is; why you got one; and how you can respond. The tip sheet also explains how to review your specific violations and the ability to verify these, so you can help prevent them in the future.

Once you receive a letter, FMCSA recommends that you 1) Check your data through its SMS (FMCSA released the SMS to the public last December. Motor carriers can log in to the SMS with their U.S. DOT number and PIN to access safety data or log in to the FMCSA Portal); 2) Understand you safety assessment. The SMS calculates a measure for each BASIC. The measure is then used to assign a ranking or percentile that allows the safety behavior of a motor carrier to be compared with the safety behavior of motor carriers with similar operations and numbers of safety events; and 3) Take action immediately to correct your score. If you discover inaccuracies during the review process, submit a correction request through DataQs.

According to reports, the federal government has plans to sharply increase funding and staffing for the CSA program. Transport Topics recently reported that the Government Accountability Office requested $78 million for the program for fiscal 2012 – an increase of more than $68 million over CSA’s 2010 budget. This will help the agency monitor a broader swath of fleets. Under the old SafeStat system, FMCSA only managed to take action against 2 percent of carriers.

Your Alabama Trucking Association is also here to help you through the process. ATA’s staff has assisted several members reverse their rating in the old SafeStat system, and we can do the same with your CSA rating. Call us at 334-834-3983.

Ford Boswell is editor of Alabama Trucker. He also oversees communications, marketing and public affairs for the Alabama Trucking Association. Email him at fboswell@alabamatrucking.org.