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Safety scorecards for motor carriers and drivers

Safety scorecards for motor carriers and drivers

By Steve Binkley,
Safety Consultant

With over twenty-seven years of experience in the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s commercial vehicle enforcement division, conducting over ten thousand DOT inspections, I’ve witnessed firsthand the evolution of safety protocols in the industry.

In my initial years, I relied solely on personal experiences to identify motor carriers for inspection, discerning between the commendable and the concerning. However, around 1998, the FMCSA initiated a pivotal shift by providing CMV enforcement officers access to inspection data. This allowed for more informed decisions regarding which motor carriers warranted inspection, based on past performance metrics such as inspections, crashes, and Inspection Selection Scores (IIS). Subsequently, the FMCSA introduced the CSA program, which evaluates motor carriers across seven distinct categories. This program compares carriers’ safety performance with that of their peers, ranking them accordingly. By furnishing officers with percentile rankings, the CSA program aids in prioritizing inspections effectively.

Yet, beyond law enforcement, it’s vital to recognize that other stakeholders, including the public, customers, insurance companies, and attorneys, can access this scorecard. Although they may not see the percentile scores, they have access to critical data encompassing inspections, violations, out-of-service instances, and crashes. This data serves as a barometer for assessing potential risks of injuries or fatalities. Furthermore, there exist scorecards dedicated to evaluating safety technologies in trucks, encompassing metrics like speeding events, following distances, lane departures, and hard braking incidents. Motor carriers leverage telematics data to identify drivers in need of intervention or additional training, thereby mitigating the risk of serious incidents.

It’s imperative for motor carriers to proactively review these scorecards, scrutinize inspection and telematics data, and devise improvement strategies. Investing in safety technologies and educating drivers on CSA scorecards and technology usage can foster safer driving behaviors and habits, consequently enhancing individual scorecards. Additionally, drivers should familiarize themselves with the PSP report (Pre-Employment Screening Program), a FMCSA initiative maintaining five years of crash data and three years of inspection data. This report aids motor carriers in assessing a driver’s suitability for employment. As freight volumes fluctuate, customers and shippers may increasingly rely on scorecards when selecting carriers and drivers for their freight needs. Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the fluidity of these scorecards and the impact they can have on a carrier’s reputation.

In essence, maintaining a favorable scorecard requires collective efforts from carriers, safety managers, and drivers. By fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration, we can ensure that our scorecards reflect our commitment to safety and integrity, while also meeting the expectations of all stakeholders.

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