CSA 2010, as is typical of any government-run program, is already full of misconceptions, contradictions, and confusion. Trucker drivers are obviously concerned about their safety rating and how that will affect their current job, and prospects for truck driving jobs in the future. Well, oddly enough, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) claims there is not going to be a safety rating assigned to individual company drivers at all. And yet they clearly state that when a carrier gets audited, their driver’s safety records will be reviewed. They also have a pre-employment screening program in place to allow trucking companies to get driver safety information before hiring a driver. Will this pre-employment screening and safety rating system apply to owner-operators only? What effects will CSA 2010 have on company drivers? Let’s take a look.
Straight From The FMCSA Website
One of the frequently asked questions listed on the CSA 2010 Website is:
“Will CSA 2010 assign safety ratings to individual CMV drivers? I heard that CSA 2010 is designed to rate CMV drivers and to put many of them out of work this summer.”
The answer seems crystal clear – at least the first word of it. Unfortunately the rest raises a number of questions:
“No. Under CSA 2010, individual CMV drivers will not be assigned safety ratings or safety fitness determinations. Consistent with the current safety rating regulations (49 CFR part 385), individual drivers will continue to be rated, as they are today, following an on-site investigation at their place of business when they operate independently as a “motor carrier” (i.e. have their own USDOT number, operating authority, and insurance). CSA 2010 is designed to meet one overriding objective: to increase safety on the Nation’s roads. Therefore, it is, by design, a positive program for drivers and carriers with strong safety performance records, and it will send a strong message that drivers and carriers with poor safety performance histories need to improve.”
This Makes No Sense
Ok, clearly there is a lot of confusion here. How can it be “a positive program for drivers and carriers with strong safety performance records” and “send a strong message that drivers and carriers with poor safety performance histories need to improve” if by “drivers” they only mean owner-operators? Are you saying that company drivers are completely unaffected by this program? Will there not be any scores given or pre-employment information available for company drivers at all?
I find that impossible to believe. It would not make sense on any level to track owner-operators and not company drivers. Regarding the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), the FMCSA website says:
PSP is a new FMCSA program mandated by Congress that is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators’ crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. The program is voluntary. It is not part of CSA 2010. The system is expected to launch in early 2010 and enrollment for PSP will be available soon.
So apparently, the Pre-Employment Screening Program is not part of CSA 2010. Ok, then the next question would be “Where does the PSP get their information, what information is on a driver’s record, and which drivers will actually be included in the PSP?” Well, we don’t know because the website doesn’t say. It does offer an email address for further information and I’ve sent an email – we’ll see what they say.
The Driver Safety Measurement System
At the core of the CSA 2010 system is their Safety Measurement System which is broken into two parts – the Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS) and the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS). In a document entitled “Introduction To The Safety Measurement System”, a comparison between the old SAFESTAT program and the new CSA 2010 program states that “The SMS assesses individual drivers and carriers while SafeStat assesses only carriers”. They go on to explain:
“Currently, most of the focus of FMCSA safety programs and enforcement has been on motor carriers. In the future, the DSMS will allow FMCSA to identify unsafe drivers for interventions based on their inspection and crash history across all employers (former and current). Given the often transient nature of driver employment, the DSMS will be a valuable tool for FMCSA to address driver-specific problems that cannot be easily handled at the motor carrier level. The DSMS may eventually be a valuable tool for motor carriers to monitor their own drivers and assess prospective hires. These efforts will encourage safe and compliant behavior among CMV drivers and will enable carriers to consider drivers’ safety histories when making hiring decisions.”
That does not sound at all to me like a program that was put in place to give company drivers a free ride and focus exclusively on owner-operators. In fact, it seems pretty clear that it’s created to do the exact opposite – evaluate individual company drivers. But I could be wrong.
A Small Number Of Drivers Create The Most Problems
Again, according to their Frequently Asked Questions regarding CSA 2010, they state:
“Some studies indicate that a small segment of the CMV driver population is involved in a disproportionately large number of crashes.”
I have no problem believing this because it seems pretty true for most things in life, a small percentage of people screw it up for the majority. But if the CSA 2010 is only going to evaluate owner-operators, then we better hope there’s no bad apples mixed in amongst company drivers then, wouldn’t you say? Again, this makes no sense.
The Final Assessment
So from the information I’ve gathered so far, what the FMCSA has clearly stated is that company drivers will not be assigned a safety rating. And yet all of their documentation clearly refers to assessing “employees” and “individual CMV drivers”, and they make statements like “These efforts will encourage safe and compliant behavior among CMV drivers and will enable carriers to consider drivers’ safety histories when making hiring decisions.”
If what the FMCSA is saying is true, that “Under CSA 2010, individual CMV drivers will not be assigned safety ratings or safety fitness determinations” then:
- Company drivers will not be assigned safety ratings
- Carriers should not have access to any pre-employment data regarding a company driver through the CSA 2010 program
- A company driver’s current job and future employment should not be affected whatsoever by the CSA 2010 program itself
- A carrier will not be able to identify whether a current or prospective company driver has a poor safety rating through the CSA 2010 program (Because the driver has no score, correct?)
Does this make any sense at all? No. Have they created a program that completely exonerates company drivers from being scored? No way. Are they going to put a safety rating system in place that prevents carriers from assessing their individual company drivers? No way. Are they going to track safety and yet not offer a way for companies to asses prospective company drivers? Not a chance. If it were true that company drivers will not be given a safety rating score then it would be the first time in the history of trucking that any system was ever put in place that didn’t ultimately hold the individual company driver responsible for his/her actions. None of this makes any sense. I’ll be following up on this in future posts.