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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CSA Violations - Another trucking manager's horror story

We dispatch about 100 drivers statewide and currently show three accidents on the CSA.  One was serious in which the truck driver took evasive action to minimize the risk to a motorist who moved into his lane while digging under the seat of the car he was driving.  Thanks to the truck driver the motorist survived the crash.    In the second accident our driver stopped behind a blocking accident and was dialing 911 for aid while setting out flares, when a third vehicle hit his trailer from behind.  The third accident was another lane encroachment by a motorist in which the truck driver had to maintain his wits to keep from involving anyone else.  There was damage but no injuries.  The other motorist was cited.  There are no accidents that we were at fault for though it looks as if we have a pretty high crash incidence. 

I also might point out that there is an unseen and uncounted toll on the psyche of the commercial driver who is involved in a crash.  Then to add insult to injury the crash appears on his record in our state without fault designation as well as on the company CSA affecting our ability to get him future work.      Due to the CSA changes of Dec 2012 combining securement into the maintenance basic our maintenance basic increased to over 60.  Securement includes anything overweight including axle weight and bridge/weight ratio,  rules which vary from state to state.    We have worked diligently to adjust our equipment and loading habits to make everybody happy and reduce the number of those kinds of violations but its a difficult area to maneuver. You could say that CSA changes have affected the intensity with which we have attacked this area but the things we have changed have had very little to do with securement or maintenance.      

Then this past spring one of our terminals began sending me DVIRs daily from one particular Point of Entry scalehouse and the local area surrounding it in the next state.  We sent three to five units a day through that POE all summer and each truck was inspected usually recieving violations; sometimes being inspected twice or more per day. The violations were occasionally valid but mostly questionable citing things such as potential hose wear, tire pressure, or HOS violations which should not have been applied to local/regional drivers.  We were written for the height of a reflector from the ground that has been in the same place on all of the equipment for years and for a loose extinguisher because the driver hooked a glove on the fastener & knocked it loose while getting his tools during an inspection.  As is policy the night maintenance crew addressed each violation nightly right down to replacing the fastener the errant extinguisher hanger and moving all of our reflectors up an inch, but  violations were found at that POE on the same equipment and drivers each day.  Two drivers were told that we were being singeled out for challenging an earlier OOS violation at that POE and getting it removed.  The rumor was believable since it was the only place in four states we were  being inspected and issued violations daily (though it was the most inspection prolific summer we have had).  

Thankfully, the harassment at the one POE dropped off in October and inspections dropped to almost nill everywhere during September even though we were busier than ever.     Heres the thing:  A company score is way too easily skewed under the current system.  The CSA is punitive, not helpful to those companies and drivers who strive to BE safe, not just LOOK safe according to the CSA.  It grants power to punish without opportunity for fair and objective appeal.  It sets law enforcement and trucking in oposite corners of the safety ring so they are sure to come out swinging instead of encouraging an environment of cooperation.        I used to be able to say to a driver, " Well, we all have bad days, and cops can't know everything,  just be respectful and get back on the road".  Now I have to say, "Well he's wrong.  Take a picture & send it to me.  I'll spend the next two afternoons researching, compiling and making my case so I can prove to him and his superiors that he doesnt know what he's talking about"    On top of this the FMC have added so many layers of rules and exceptions to rules over time that combined with other state and federal law, how could your average officer freindly be expected to remember and enforce it all?  No wonder he's feeling cranky.  Its overwelming just to know regulations which apply to our own industry.   I'd guess that enforcing the regulations has to be as frustrating and unrewarding as trying to comply with them. 
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