I recently attended an interesting seminar at the TCA Safety and Security meeting discussing how to reduce your CSA score in Unsafe Driving and Fatigue. Two carriers presented their experiences and specifically how they were able to tackle these two challenges.
I think (or hope) everyone would agree that one drives the other when it comes to CSA. If not lets back up. The Fatigue Driving basic and any points that the driver receives for it are directly caused by the Unsafe Driving basic. If a driver is doing their pre-trip and obeying the rules of the road then the chance that they will have a Fatigue violation is decreased dramatically because the driver is not pulled over in the first place.
That was the first conclusion of the presenters and it makes so much sense that initially people were trying to shoot holes in it. I have been saying all along that a driver needs to decrease unnecessary (or stupid) inspections in the CSA world. That was their approach and it has worked. Train and counsel the drivers on moving violations and make sure they understand the connection to CSA and how it affects them and their record.
I think the real news that came out was what these fleets have also done to decrease Fatigue violations. Surprise, they installed elog devices and saw their scores go down significantly. Was this caused be the technology? I think that was the conclusion that most people drew from the presenters, until someone (ok it was me) in the audience asked that question directly.
The answer was very telling as were the comments that both presenters made.
Q: Can you tell us if the reduction that that your companies experienced was because elogs are making your driver more compliant?
Presenter 1: No, in fact our experience showed us that once the officer knew that the driver was using elogs they did not look at them (the logs).
Q: Because they assumed the logs were correct?
Presenter1: I think they truly did not know how to read them or did not want to mess with it. That being said we do not have issues with form and manner violations from our drivers.
Presenter2: I would also add that if you think you can quit auditing logs if you have an elog system you are crazy. We spend as much time auditing logs as we ever had.
Presenter1: I agree with that as well. I would also say that once training is completed with enforcement officials we will see them looking more closely at elogs.
Here is our experience to date auditing elogs. Drivers still have violations pure and simple. Form and manner violations are gone, but they still have all the other violations. Elog devices are a submission method. True, most of them have alerts to warn drivers of upcoming violations but that does not stop them.
Couple that with the ability to audit paper when a device goes down and you have a potential compliance headache. The methods behind log auditing may change, but the need to make sure that your drivers are compliant will not.
The real issue here; are you prepared for a visit from the DOT if you are not auditing logs? The answer is probably not. Are you willing to risk it?
News flash, a study finds that the percentile scores in the SMS are arbitrary. In a story that was carried in the CCJ Daily Report on June 27th the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) released the results of a study that they commissioned of the correlation between individual carrier percentile ranking and crash frequency. http://www.ccjdigital.com/asectt-study-finds-sms-percentile-scores-arbitrary-invalid/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=06-27-2012&utm_campaign=CCJ
Bottom line in the report is the conclusion that individual carrier rankings that are above or below the monitoring threshold are not valid predictors of crash frequency. ASECTT does concede that there is a logical connection between unsafe driving and driver fatigue and impacts on crashes, the methodology (how data is captured, calculated and interpreted) does not show any connection to crashes.
So what? The industry can argue until it is blue in the face about the scoring of the CSA program however, the regulations and laws have not changed. Every carrier is measured and judged the same way. I believe that the slippery slope that the FMCSA went down was the whole idea that this programs goal was to find a direct correlation to crash frequency. It is and always has been my belief that we should get past this and talk about what the real goal is. It is to make our roads, drivers, and families safer on the road.
I am one of the first people to question the connection between crashes and things like seat belt use or not having the medical certificate in possession, however, they are regulations and they are there for a reason.
As an industry, I think it is time for us to get beyond arguing about the way the game is scored and move on to fixing the issues that we have as individual carriers and drivers. What we should be fighting for is education. The FMCSA has a responsibility to educate the shipping community, the insurance industry and the general public about what the numbers mean and that they should not be used solely to determine carrier fitness. This goes back to my earlier post about the zero sum game.
It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that we are constantly striving to improve safety, so lets keep working to make that happen.
Growing up my father worked for Northwestern Bell. I remember every year he would bring home different items that were used to remind everyone to work safely. One that stands out in my mind was a rain poncho with a picture of Yosemite Sam with the caption 1974 NWB Spring Safety Shootout. I had no clue what it meant but I do remember the pride and committment my Dad had in Bell. He worked there for 37 years and never had an accident, not one. That seems like a pretty successful program to me. What is 37 years accident free worth to a company? Safety was not a word or a catch phrase in our house. It was just what we did, everyday.
I hear talk all the time about creating a ______ culture (you can fill it in with anything really, safety, customer focused etc). I think you get the idea. What does it really mean? How do you change the culture in an organization. There have been more books written on this subject than you can imagine. I have read my share of them and I still have no great revelation to offer. Just some common sense that I received from my mentors (including Dad) over the years.
A Safety Culture is not something that can be made up, nor is it something that happens overnight. Safety is a learned behavior. That means it can be taught. Whoa stop, before you go out and buy the latest and greatest book, program , etc, you need to take stock in what you as an organization need to do, want to do and are willing to do. Then determine the most important thing of all, how you are going to measure your success.
Needs, wants and willing are the three questions that you have to ask before you determine what if anything you are going to do to begin establishing a safety culture. Where are you as an organization? What is your accident frequency, your ISS score, your CSA score, your lost time injury rate, work comp expense. Look at it all, face it if you do not target your problems you are wasting everyone’s time.
Now that you understand where you are, where do you want to be? Lower CSA scores, lower accident frequency etc. Put the plan together on how you are going to get there and how you will measure success.
Then the hardest part of all. What is the organization willing to do? You have to sell it from the top down. If everyone, and I do mean everyone, is not on the same page (or as my Dad would say rowing the same direction) you will not get there. Everyone in the organization needs to understand their role in developing and maintaining a safe culture. It needs to be laid out, and expectations need to be set. Not just for drivers or fleet managers, but for payroll, HR, Sales, everyone.
Finally, make sure that what every you decide to do you have the tools in place to measure your results. You need to determine what you will measure and what success means. Then look at programs, tools, training and the like.
In an effort to get the word out I am re-posting this email from the FMCSA.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is pleased to announce that motor carriers can now preview the first package of changes to the Safety Measurement System (SMS). FMCSA designed SMS to be improved over time as better technology, new data, and additional analysis become available. This release is the first in a series of improvements to SMS that will take place up to twice a year. FMCSA is providing a preview period for motor carriers and enforcement personnel before it uses the SMS changes to prioritize motor carriers for safety interventions and before it makes those changes available to the public. The SMS Preview begins on March 27, 2012 and runs through late June 2012.
These first enhancements are the agency’s response to findings from its ongoing analyses of data and input from enforcement, industry, and other safety stakeholders. During the SMS Preview, FMCSA is collecting, assessing, and addressing feedback from preview participants, and may further refine the SMS enhancements prior to public implementation in summer 2012.
As of March 27, 2012, carriers can access the SMS Preview through two websites:
1. Visit the CSA Website (https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/login.aspx) and log in with an FMCSA-issued U.S. DOT number and a personal identification number (PIN), or
2. Log in to the FMCSA Portal (https://portal.fmcsa.dot.gov/login ) and select the “CSA Outreach” link.
FMCSA encourages motor carriers to view the SMS Preview to see how methodology changes will affect their SMS results.
On the CSA Website’s Resources page, motor carriers and other stakeholders can access a foundational document that provides additional information about the first set of SMS changes. A Federal Register notice outlining the changes is also available for review. Written comments regarding the changes can be filed to the Federal Docket Management System at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID Number FMCSA-2012-0074.
Really? Let me get this straight. The FMCSA has decided to slow down the process of determining crash accountability because the anti-trucking lobby has called into question law enforcement’s reliability in determining who was at fault? Is that not what we pay them for, to determine if something was done wrong and to address it? I know that I am being somewhat simplistic here but it seems to me that if we can not trust the judgement of enforcement officers then who can we trust to make this determination. Does this not bring into question any judgement decision that an officer is making in the field.
It is interesting that the FMCSA also claims that crashes, no matter if the driver is at fault or not, predict the future likelihood of a future crash. I am at a stoplight, the light turns green, I look both ways and proceed through the intersection. A driver runs the light and hits me. How doers this predict that I will be involved in another crash?
I believe the real issue here is the lack of real data to help us prevent accidents. If a driver’s behavior is accurately measured (preventable vs non preventable) this will give our industry a true indication of crash probability. That is all we want. Help us determine our at risk carriers and drivers and let us work on making them better. Instead the current powers that be would have us chasing our tails and bowing to political pressure, rather than focus on the areas that we need to. This is about training and working with our drivers folks!
At what point will common sense return to the FMCSA? You have to love an election year.
New HAZMAT BASIC analyzed by Vigillo
Scene Opens: A dark cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.
Fillet of a fenny snake, In the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,— For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble…from Macbeth, circa 1613
The FMCSA has described the soon-to-be-released “improvements” to CSA’s methodology including the creation of a new HAZMAT BASIC. In short, the intention is to:
Our friends at FMCSA have been very receptive to suggestions for change since CSA launched in 2010. I’ve heard a lot of clamoring for a lot of changes, many of which have been made, many others appear to be in the works. But I’ve never heard anyone pleading for a HAZMAT BASIC, so I thought I’d dig into this a bit. Found some interesting data. Thought I’d share, thats what we do…
First, one assumes that a major change to something like CSA would be driven by its underlying goal which is to reduce the number of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. I began my analysis with the assumption that this new HAZMAT BASIC, along with the inclusion of Cargo violations into the Maintenance BASIC, would reveal some new information, perhaps bring laser focus to issues previously unknown in order to give carriers, law enforcement and the public the information they all need to continue the efforts to make our roads safer. The reformulation of the BASICs as currently described will, in my opinion have exactly the opposite effect.
The most common Cargo BASIC violation today is 393.104(b) Damaged or Insecure tie-downs. In fact, seven of the top ten Cargo violations are directly associated with insecure loads or vehicle equipment (see slide 4). Real safety stuff. A person could imagine real accidents, real injuries, real bad things if cargo or equipment decide to leave the vehicle without permission. Today’s Cargo BASIC, while not visible to the public, does clearly communicate to carriers where they stand with their Cargo related violations. They matter.
So what do we get in trade for the disappearance of real, serious Cargo related violations (drum roll)… a new HAZMAT BASIC that is populated almost exclusively with placarding and paperwork violations (see slide 7). It is logical to imagine a faulty tie-down leading to a crash, it is less clear how a placard “displayed other than horizontally”(frequency #7), or “obscured from the direction it faces” (frequency #12) logically leads to a crash. Yet, that is exactly what this new HAZMAT BASIC spotlights; placarding, paperwork, and compliance.
Finally, the new HAZMAT BASIC is very sparsely populated with data. I studied 895,480 violations in Maintenance and Cargo for this analysis. 849,097 were in Maintenance, 46,383 from Cargo as it exists today, and only 14,960 (1.6%) end up in the HAZMAT BASIC if it is organized as the Agency has described. Divide that into 5 Safety Event Groups (Peers) and the result will be a highly volatile environment where a small number of new violations will result in skyrocketing HAZMAT scores. Scores that will now be open to the public.
A couple other observations:
1. Last year, the Agency changed how HAZMAT carriers are designated. No longer is it determined by Carrier Safety Permit alone, but also now includes any carrier with an inspection or investigation with placardable quantities of HAZMAT.
2. Many Carriers believe that if they are NOT HAZMAT permitted, they don’t need to worry about this new BASIC. Au contrair, mon ami. The larger issue here is what happened to Cargo? Carriers all need to know and understand their own violation status and the relationship between their Maintenance and Cargo violations.
3. The FMCSA has always been consistent in advising against adding CSA Points across BASICs. A CSA point in Unsafe is not equal to a CSA point in Fitness. Yet that is exactly what is being done here. There are 350 violations that currently make up the Cargo BASIC (New 2.2 methodology) and 115 of them are packing their little bags and heading for their new home in Maintenance. What happened to not adding across BASICs? I know, I hear you all now, well Steve (you are thinking…or yelling), they’ll adjust the severity weights to welcome all these newcomers. Note: The Tie-Down violation I’ve mentioned here has a severity weight of 7 already. So make it a 10, it moves into 24th place. It would require a massive down-weighting of far beefier tire, brake and lamp violations in order to bolster our wimpy little Cargo friends onto the comfy couch at their new Maintenance home (OK, pushed that too far).
It has been an interesting few days. I have been talking to clients and to friends in the industry and I am continually amazed about the number of individuals and companies that believe they have their CSA scores under control. Or worse yet, still do not understand it and rely on someone else in the organization to monitor it. The reason I am amazed is because I do what every insurance carrier and broker out there is doing as well. I go to the site and look at their scores while I am talking to them. Apparently, my definition of control is different from a lot of the carriers I am speaking to.
If you are a President, COO, CFO, CEO or any other title out there and you do not know your score and how it is affecting your business you are already in trouble. No one who runs a company does so for very long without knowing and understanding their numbers, CSA numbers are just as important to your survival and success as your P and L.
I have written about it here before, but it is worth repeating today. Bad scores cost you money! Plain and simple. You will pay for it in higher insurance premium (see my post on the ATA wrap-up), http://csadvantage.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/ata-wrap-up/ you will pay in more scale stops, you will lose customers, and it will cost you drivers. If you do not think drivers are looking at carriers CSA scores you are mistaken.
So I will ask you a simple question, “Are you covered in CSA compliance”. If you can not answer yes, you need to find out why. Let me be clear here, bad scores do not necessarily mean you have a bad safety department or a bad safety manager. The rules for keeping score changed and your organization needs to change with it. As an organization not only do you need to understand your scores, you also need to know how you can influence driver behavior to reduce your scores moving forward.
Visit this link to see how CSAdvantage can help you manage you scores and change your driver’s behavior.
For those of you that would like more information on CSA there are new factsheets availble at the following website:
I hope they help.
If you have not seen the moving Groundhogs Day starring Bill Murray (really?) the premise should be very familiar.
Self-centered and sour Phil Connors (Bill) from fictional Pittsburgh television station WPBH-TV9 travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhogs day festivities with Punxsutawney Phil. Having grown tired of this assignment, Phil grudgingly gives his report and attempts to return to Pittsburgh when a blizzard shuts down the roads. Phil and his team are forced to return to Punxsutawney and stay in town overnight.
Phil wakes up to find that he is reliving February 2. The day plays out exactly as it did before and only Phil aware of past events. At first he is confused, but, when the phenomenon continues on subsequent days, he decides to take advantage of the situation with no fear of long-term consequences: he learns secrets from the town’s residents, seduces women, steals money, drives recklessly, and gets thrown in jail. However, his attempts to get closer to Rita repeatedly fail.
When Phil explains the situation to Rita, she suggests that he should take advantage of it to improve himself. Inspired, Phil endeavors to try to learn more about Rita, building upon his knowledge of her and the town each day. He begins to use his by-now vast experience of the day to help as many people around town as possible. He uses the time to learn, among other things, to play piano, ice sculpt and speak French.
Eventually, Phil is able to befriend almost everyone he meets during the day, using his experiences to save lives, help townspeople, and to get closer to Rita. He crafts a report on the Groundhog Day celebration so eloquent that all the other stations turn their microphones to him. After the evening dance, Rita and Phil retire together to Phil’s room. He wakes the next morning and finds the time loop is broken; it is now February 3 and Rita is still with him. After going outside, Phil talks about living in Punxsutawney with Rita.
So when the HOS changes came to my inbox as a Christmas present I felt like I just woke up again on February 2. Here we go again. ATA and Public Citizen are already talking about going back to court for different reasons. It seems obvious to most involved that there is no end in site for this ongoing legal fest.
Lets look at some of the changes. First what did not change. The eleven hour rule remained ( I thought it was a toast). When you read the report, I believe that the Department did an excellent job in explaining with facts why no change was made even though it was their preference to do so. Bottom line here, the economic impact did not justify the change.
If only that same logic and had been used on the 34 hour restart. Rather than really doing a good economic evaluation of this, I believe that the Department relied too heavily on some questionable fatigue data to make this change. The result is a convoluted new rule that does not allow a driver to use a reset in any meaningful way. To make matters worse a driver now completes the restart at 5:00am, what a great time to put more trucks on the road.
The rest break provision is another area where I believe that the Department strayed a little too far. Since the last revision the one thing that I have heard from drivers was the lack of ability to rest once they started their clock if the needed to. Something that was used by the majority of driver. If they felt tired they could rest for 30 minutes without it affecting their drive time. Instead of allowing something like that for drivers that need it, just mandate it. Makes me glad I am not planning freight.
Instead of really working to help improve what is already a very good set of regulations the FMSCA has found yet another way to make sure no one is happy with the changes, guaranteeing more court action and further uncertainty.
February 2nd came too soon for me.
For those of you that missed it over Thanksgiving the FMCSA has finally (my editorial comments begin) banned the use of hand-held phones while driving. http://www.ccjdigital.com/interstate-truck-bus-drivers-banned-from-using-handheld-cell-phones/?pg=2
I am not sure why this should surprise anyone that has been following the exploits of this administration or Secretary LaHood. While there have been a number of things I have not agreed with coming out of the administration I want to applaud this move. It is a long time coming. If your organization has not had a policy banning handheld phone when driving get one and fast. Not only for your drivers. You need a policy for all employees when they are driving for work purposes. It is not only the right thing to do, it is a liability that you do not need to be exposed to.
Unfortunately, not everyone in our industry shares this opinion. I found this comment on the article that is highlighted in this post:
”I have seen police and fire with five plus radios and other more serious distractions and with drivers that were not qualified to drive a golf cart. From the amounts of the fines this appears to be is just another form of more revenue enhancement. Trucks stopped everywhere will be a greater safety hazard than the cell calls. And how safe will it be to sneak a call while driving around lost forever.”
I hope and believe that this is not a view shared by other professional drivers…