By Jami Jones
With FMCSA’s enforcement of the trucking industry nearing its entrance into the full-on digital age, small-business truckers and drivers alike have been calling OOIDA with their questions on this new program.
The following is a collection of the most common questions asked about CSA 2010.
Q: I understand that FMCSA is going to be assessing points for different violations. How can I find out how many points are assessed for the different violations?
A: While we would love to print the entire list of violations and their point values, we simply don’t have the space for that. There are 61 pages of violations FMCSA will be tracking.
Land Line posts major features online at landlinemag.com. Along with the archive of the March/April issue, you can find a complete listing of the violations FMCSA will track.
It’s also important to note that some violations are not considered the fault of the driver, but others are. As you review the document, pay close attention to the last column on each page. That will tell you if FMCSA considers the violation a “driver responsible” violation.
Q: I keep hearing about these “BASICs.” What the heck are these?
A: That term is just FMCSA’s shorthand for Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories.
They are just that – categories or groupings of violations. Sometimes you’ll even hear FMCSA folks compare them to buckets that violations are separated into.
There are essentially seven BASICs. They are:
• Unsafe driving (Parts 392 and 397);
• Fatigued driving (Parts 392 and 395);
• Driver fitness (Parts 383 and 391);
• Controlled substances/alcohol (Parts 382 and 392);
• Vehicle Maintenance (Parts 393 and 396);
• Cargo related (Parts 392, 393, 397 and hazmat); and
• Crash indicator.
So, for example, all of the hours-of-service violations are counted under the fatigued driving BASIC. All of your equipment violations are recorded under the vehicle maintenance one.
Q: So it’s best to not get any violations, or at least keep my points low?
A: Well, yes. It’s always best to be in compliance with the federal regulations or, worst case scenario, only experience minor violations.
The most important thing to remember is that points are just the leaping-off place for determining your compliance with the federal regulations. Those points are then multiplied, divided, compared to peer groups, etc., before your compliance percentile ranking is determined by FMCSA.
That percentile ranking is by far the most important number to focus on. It is the same number that FMCSA will use to determine interventions with the motor carriers and if need be, individual drivers.
Q: But low points are always best? Right?
A: Not necessarily. When you are reviewing your company safety measurement profile and you look down the “Measurement” column, that’s the one most people seem to be mistakenly focusing their attention on.
That’s not a good thing to do, and here’s why. For starters you have to remember these are not straight “points.” A lot of math has already been done to these “measurements.” And, while conventional wisdom tells you lower numbers are better, that’s not necessarily the case either. A perfect case in point is included on FMCSA’s example of a carrier safety profile.
The motor carrier has the following measurements in each of the BASICs:
• Unsafe driving...................... 13.84
• Fatigued driving...................... 3.18
• Driver fitness........................... 3.73
• Controlled substance
& alcohol................................ N/A
• Vehicle maintenance............ 4.66
• Improper loading/
cargo securement................. 1.30
• Crash indicator....................... 0.42
If you try to apply the simple logic of low numbers are good, high numbers are bad, none of these categories appear to throw any red flags. But, once the points were cooked through the math and compared to peer carriers, there really are some problem areas.
Here’s how those measurements stacked up in percentiles for FMCSA’s sample motor carrier:
• Unsafe driving......................... 98.6
• Fatigued driving...................... 90.5
• Driver fitness........................... 99.9
• Controlled substance
& alcohol........................... Insuff.
• Vehicle maintenance............. 43.1
• Improper loading/
cargo securement.................. 50.7
• Crash indicator........................ 64.3
The first three categories have a high enough percentile ranking that FMCSA will have interventions against the motor carrier. And look again at the crash indicator – a measurement of 0.42. That would seem to be so low as to not even be on FMCSA’s radar. However, compared to other companies in the same peer group, it puts them in the worse half, for lack of a better way to put it.
So, the short version of this answer is, your attention should be focused on complying with the federal regs and keeping an eye on your percentile ranking to see how well you are doing compared to your peer carriers. That’s what FMCSA is going to be watching.
Q: What happens if I get multiple violations for the same thing or have a driver that does?
A: FMCSA has limited the number of times violations on an inspection report can count against you – an effort to limit stacking of violations.
An outrageous example of stacking would be if a driver were cited for all 18 tires not having sufficient tread depth – 18 different violations of 393.75(d) noted on an inspection report for instance.
We posed that question to some FMCSA folks, and while they laughed and agreed that would be an outrageous example of violations being repeatedly noted on inspection reports, the points for the repeated noting of that one violation would be counted only once – not 18 times.
Q: My motor carrier tells me I have too many “points.” Are these the same thing as points against my CDL?
A: Absolutely not. In fact, the sooner the industry quits worrying about “points” on carrier and driver profiles and starts focusing on the percentile rankings, the better.
Points assessed to a motor carrier or driver are just one small step in determining the motor carrier’s or driver’s overall compliance with the federal regs. The point totals are then multiplied for time weight, factored into a peer group, and adjusted to reflect compliance as compared to that peer group.
Interventions by FMCSA are going to be triggered by percentiles, not just by points.
As far as points against your CDL, nothing has changed on that front. You’ll have to deal with your home state DMV and make sure that you’re in the clear with them. LL
Editor’s note: Land Line will print answers to your questions fielded here at OOIDA HQ. If you have a question, you can e-mail it to email@example.com. We will get you an answer ASAP and print your Q&A in a future issue.