Surprising data

Early analysis of data conducted of 1,500 fleets with over 500,000 drivers shows that 69% of those fleets would face some sort of federal intervention under the CSA 2010 safety screening program, compared to 1.3% under the current but expiring SafeStat system. The analysis, conducted by the data mining software company Vigillo, was based on FMCSA databases and methodologies that will be used to score

Early analysis of data conducted of 1,500 fleets with over 500,000 drivers shows that 69% of those fleets would face some sort of federal intervention under the CSA 2010 safety screening program, compared to 1.3% under the current but expiring SafeStat system. The analysis, conducted by the data mining software company Vigillo, was based on FMCSA databases and methodologies that will be used to score both fleets and drivers in seven areas known as BASICs under the new safety rating program.

Aggregating that data to identify trends has revealed that “a huge sea-change is underway” in the way fleet safety performance will be monitored, according to Drew Anderson, director of sales for Vigillo.

Fleets with ratings that exceed threshold levels in any of the seven BASIC categories will face “intervention” that ranges from a letter of warning from FMCSA to increased federal scrutiny of safety records. Exceeding that threshold in one of the two BASICs involving traffic and hours-of-service violations could result in an unsatisfactory safety rating even if a fleet has acceptable ratings in the other six categories.

The analysis showed 396 of the fleets had one BASIC score above the intervention threshold, 288 had two, 163 had three, 76 had four, 34 had five, 9 had six, and 4 were above the threshold in all seven. The four that surpassed the intervention threshold in all seven BASICs were in FMCSA's largest fleet or “peer group” ranking with 500 or more power units. The five peer group rankings are based solely on fleet size. FMCSA sets separate intervention thresholds for each of the five peer groups in all seven BASICs.

“I don't believe that larger fleets are less safe,” said Anderson. “I think that the statistics point out the inequity of [FMCSA's] peer group rankings based only on the number of power units.” Testimony by the American Trucking Assns. and others about the current ranking system has pushed FMCSA to revisit the issue and to indicate that it will add miles driven to the ranking equation. “I think once they introduce miles driven into the [rankings], the number of larger fleets [above the intervention thresholds] will go down,” Anderson told Fleet Owner.

Analysis of root causes for fleets being charged with points under CSA showed that 81% came from “driver controllable” violations, according to Vigillo. “They came from inspections due to the behavior of the driver, primarily for observable defects like a broken windshield or for moving violations,” Anderson said.

By far the most common moving violation points involved speeding, he said, pointing out that under CSA speed warnings as well as citations count against fleet and driver CSA records. “Actually 53% of all speeding violations we saw involved warnings, not citations,” Anderson said.

Critics of CSA point to inconsistent state enforcement of truck safety regulations as a major inequity in the assignment of fleet and driver violation points, a point that seems borne out by Vigillo's analysis. Looking at the top 10 states for violations, Texas led the list with twice as many as the number two state Ohio. “And the top three states (Texas, Ohio and Indiana) account for 25% of all the violations in our data set,” Anderson said.

Not only do the total violation numbers vary widely among states, but the reasons for those violations also showed large individual state variations. “Texas is all about trailer lights (violations), Ohio headlamps and Indiana speeding,” Anderson told Fleet Owner. In all three states, far more violations were generated “by inspections when pulled over for an observable defect or driver violation” then at fixed-site inspections, he said.

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