Inspections

The State of CSA Safety Score Reporting

For the last few years, the FMCSA has been studying a possible change in the way they measure motor carrier safety by developing and evaluating a new model based on the Item Response Theory (IRT).

The idea is an IRT-backed scoring system would be a significant upgrade compared to the current CSA safety measurement system (SMS) because it would use additional statistics and provide a ‘fairer’ evaluation of a fleets’ safety score.

While a change to the current system is on the horizon, a timeframe for when that might be has yet to be decided. So, expect your CSA scores to be determined by the SMS for the foreseeable future.

Keep your safety scores in check

An improvement to the CSA system will benefit fleets and drivers to some degree but maintaining good safety scores relies heavily on the choices made by drivers on the road and vehicle upkeep. Prioritizing safety programs and safe driving habits is the best bet in maintaining a good score and avoiding stepped-up scrutiny by the FMCSA. Insurance providers want to work with companies with proven safety records. From an operating standpoint, weigh station bypass services utilize a fleet’s safety score to determine bypass rate. The better the score, the more bypass opportunities created.

 

LEARN MORE: Here’s how trucks are screened for safety scores at weigh stations, including experts tips for how to improve safety scores.

 

Problems with the current safety measurement system

An issue that often comes up with safety scores is that they’re not always a true reflection of how safe a fleet is due to lag time in today’s CSA safety score reporting. A fleet that may have had their safety score negatively impacted by a recent incident may suffer from poor representative scores long after the incident occurred, regardless of changes in safety practices.

The problem is, there are more than 6 million trucks on the road that go through weigh stations, and only 13,000 inspections officers. So, even if a fleet wanted to receive more inspections to help their safety score, they still might not be able to get one if the inspection site is short staffed or there’s a backlog of trucks waiting to be processed.

Electronic inspections at weigh stations can help

This issue is one of the reasons Drivewyze, in conjunction with the states of Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Michigan, launched its latest service, e-Inspections, this past summer. When a driver using e-Inspections pulls into a weigh station and is selected for inspection, HOS data is automatically transferred to the inspector, eliminating manual data entry by both the driver and inspector. It can reduce a “clean” Level III inspection from a 30-minute detention time to mere minutes. The idea is, e-Inspections will allow inspectors to inspect more trucks, increasing data sufficiency in CSA, reduce lag time in adjusting safety scores, validate, and reward a carrier’s current safety performance. At the same time, free up more time for inspectors to inspect drivers and trucks who need more extensive inspecting.

Sara Steele, who’s been heavily involved in turning e-Inspection from a concept into reality explains how e-Inspections will help shape the future of weigh station inspections in her recent column.

Even with a new IRT-based safety scoring system potentially on the way, there may never be a ‘perfect’ system that captures a true analysis of how safe a fleet really is. But, emerging technologies and proactively monitoring safety programs and scores can help your fleet stay in good standing.