For almost a year, SambaSafety has been sharing its IRT Model with the industry and reporting that we think IRT greatly improves many of the defects of CSA. Now we have completed our analysis on whether it measures up to the FMCSA’s 2012 Effectiveness Test. Details follow, but spoiler alert, IRT is superior to CSA in identifying high crash rate motor carriers. Read on for the details on how SambaSafety reincarnated the 2012 Effectiveness Test to a 2018 Effectiveness Test, that now includes a look at IRT.
In 2004, FMCSA began work on a new data-driven program that they believed would give them a more modern, statistical based program to prioritize motor carriers for interventions and compliance reviews. The Agency, very rightfully, was seeking to enter the Big Data age, and utilize data analytics to prioritize the more than 500,000 motor carriers they were tasked with overseeing toward their stated mission of:
The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
In December of 2010, the FMCSA released their new safety scoring model, then called CSA 2010, referring to Compliance, Safety, and Accountability and its release date. FMCSA promised that this new data-driven model would predict which motor carriers were more likely to have future crashes and give the Agency the tools they required to prioritize motor carriers for review.
In 2012, an Effectiveness Test was conducted by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to determine the strength of CSA’s Correlation to high crash rate motor carriers. This peer-reviewed report was based on data through June 2012, released in January 2014, and found that CSA was an effective tool for identifying carriers with higher-than-the-national-average crash rates under two different models.
The 2012 Effectiveness Test looked back two years at violation data, then forward 18 months at crashes to determine correlation. Then the test produced two different models: 1) The Number of BASICs in Alert Status; and 2) BASIC in Alert Status.
Crash Rates by Number of BASICs in Alert
Crash Rates by What BASIC is in Alert
Each model shows the strength of crash correlation as displayed by the height of the bar, and its comparison to the national average crash rate. The Number of BASICs in Alert Model shows clearly that any number of BASIC Alerts identifies higher-than-average crash rate carriers, and the correlation gets stronger the more Alerts a carrier has. The BASIC in Alert Model shows every BASIC, except Driver Fitness has a correlation that also identifies higher-than-average crash rate motor carriers.
Since 2014, this Effectiveness Study has been an important tool for FMCSA when identifying motor carriers for interventions and compliance reviews and it is still published on the FMCSA’s SMS website today.
The CSA Program, specifically its computational methodology, came under scrutiny and criticism by the Industry for several reasons. CSA Reform began in earnest in December 2015. The reforms mandated by Congress in the FAST Act of 2015 led to a report released in June 2017 by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) titled Improving Motor Carrier Safety Measurement.
The NAS report suggested a more robust, scientific statistical model be implemented in CSA to improve its ability to identify risky carriers and avoid crashes. Item Response Theory (IRT) was proposed to offer a better foundation to the CSA Program. In August 2018, FMCSA, in a report to Congress, stated that they intended to move ahead with testing of IRT.
SambaSafety, and Vigillo, which SambaSafety acquired in 2017, have been deeply involved in the reform efforts underway on the CSA Program. SambaSafety released a functioning IRT Model in November 2018 and has been running this methodology on the entire U.S. Trucking Industry since then. We have applied IRT Scores retroactively and have just completed our own Effectiveness Test, updated for 2018 data and applying the IRT Methodology. The fundamental question we posed to ourselves is simply:
The answer is, yes, it does, on both models described above.
We applied the same methodology to SMS data but updated the time period to more current activity. It would not be useful to produce current IRT Scores and compare that to the 2012 Effectiveness Test, so we started by bringing the Effectiveness Test current to 2018 data.
The 2018 updated Effectiveness Test results, still looking at existing CSA methodology, present some interesting findings before we look at IRT.
A few interesting points in the updated Count of Alerts Test. First, the average national crash rate has increased from 3.43 Crashes per 100 Power Units, to 4.426 Crashes per 100 PU. We know crashes have been increasing – disappointing but true – and this data confirms that rising crash count. Second, Alert Count continues to show a strong correlation. And a final interesting note: Carriers with five BASIC Alerts show lower correlation than those with three to four. This could be read as evidence that the CSA system, with all its flaws, may be working. Very high scrutiny is placed by not only FMCSA, but shippers, brokers and lawyers on 5+ Alert Carriers,even the FMCSA’s “High Risk Motor Carrier” Methodology focuses in this area. Any carrier with five or more Alerts would, out of necessity, be hyper-focused on bringing their CSA Scores down. The result of that focus could well be reflected in dropping crash rates in that category.
The second model, BASIC in Alert, also holds some interest. Driver Fitness remains the least useful in identifying crash rates, but all others are stronger than the national average. This view of six year recent data has Controlled Substance and Hazmat swap positions, as do Crash and Unsafe Driving. I don’t read too much into this as they were very close to the same in the original Effectiveness Test, so switching positions is probably not too exciting. Interestingly, we see continuing strong correlations in every BASIC similar to 6 years ago.
With the Test updated to current data, we then applied the same two models to IRT Scores.
It is important to start with a decision we had to make, one that FMCSA has not publicly made known as of this writing: Where will IRT thresholds be set to determine Alert status?
We took a conservative approach (fewer carriers in Alert) and set the Alert Thresholds at an IRT Score of 130. That represents the second standard deviation from the mean and identifies more than 20,000 motor carriers that would be in Alert Status in the BASICs and/or the Safety Culture Score.
With our new CSA/IRT Alert Thresholds set, we performed exactly the same Effectiveness Test, this time comparing IRT based scores to the now-updated Effectiveness test for CSA.
Once a carrier has more than one BASIC in Alert, IRT is a significantly stronger indicator of risk. It is more correlated to the high crash rate carriers with two Alerts, and significantly stronger for carriers with 3-4 or 5+ Alerts. In most cases, IRT finds carriers with higher-than-national-average crash rates.
When we look at Model 2, BASICs in Alert, IRT performs even better. In four of the seven BASICs, IRT has significantly stronger correlation to high crash rate carriers. Driver Fitness, a low performer in every other model, now far surpasses CSA and surpasses the national average. Vehicle Maintenance, HOS, and Unsafe show IRT surging ahead of CSA in its strength of correlation and the much higher crash rates it is finding in each of those four BASICs. This is really good news; these are also the four BASICs that capture the driver behavior and indicators of safety culture that make IRT work.
So why does IRT not appear to perform as well in Crash, Controlled Substance, and Hazmat? Let’s talk about the Crash BASIC. Crashes are the outcome we want to avoid. There are some of us who have never seen the logic of saying crashes predict crashes. Of course they do. CSA only scores you in Crash if you have a crash (actually two). If you tried that in Excel, you’d get a “circular reference” error. CSA is supposed to be looking at behavior that can be remedied to avoid crashes. A crash is not a behavior. So, in all of this, I discount the validity of the Crash BASIC as a Crash Correlation.
The Hazmat BASIC is explained by the FMCSA’s Effectiveness Test as follows:
“The HM Compliance BASIC does not show a strong association with future crash rate; however, it is not intended to identify such an association as the regulations used in this BASIC focus on the reduction of crash severity/consequences, not crash frequency.”
In other words, the HM BASIC is not designed to correlate to Crash Rates, and IRT agrees. It’s a low correlation, because it’s a low correlation.
The Controlled Substance BASIC suffers from a similar defect in terms of Crash Correlation. The same Effectiveness Study states: “The vast majority of Controlled Substances/Alcohol regulations are related to the administration of testing at the carrier level and are not observable or confirmed at the roadside.” The thing that largely puts Carriers in Alert Status in the Controlled Substance BASIC are not observed in roadside inspection data, and are not computed into CSA or IRT Scores. It is unlikely that “testing administration” will ever produce strong correlations to high carrier crash rates.
We are very encouraged by what we’re seeing in this Effectiveness Test on the two BASIC models. But remember, IRT also produces the Safety Culture Score; the proposed new single score that evaluates the safety culture at a motor carrier. Wouldn’t it be cool if that Safety Culture Score showed strong Crash Correlation?
Turns out it does, and it does it quite well.
When we look at the Carriers in Alert Status in the Safety Culture Score under IRT (Score of 130+), we start seeing crash correlation strength that is very strong. The average crash rate of Carriers who are at Alert status in the Safety Culture Score is 10.221 crashes per 100 power units. That is 231% of the industry average, and identifies 3,166 motor carriers who should be receiving the attention of FMCSA. It is also important to understand that many of those carriers were not scored under CSA at all.
Our conclusion is that IRT is definitely a more scientific and accurate tool for identifying high risk carriers when measured by crash rates. We encourage FMCSA to continue their work on IRT in a transparent and collaborative manner so we, and other organizations with interest and expertise in this very complex model, can continue to provide meaningful feedback in our mutual mission to save lives.
On Wednesday, July 31, 2019 the FMCSA Administrator gave notice¸ that the Pilot Crash Preventability Program begun in July 2017 will be made permanent with modifications. Here is what is being modified:
I encourage all stakeholders to read the 19 page proposal and share your thoughts through the public comment process. Motor carriers, insurers, lawyers, trade associations, and others should all take time to understand this program and its proposed changes and speak up. This is important, folks.
To get you thinking, I will try and summarize the Notice. But please, be thorough, do your homework, read the proposal and form your own opinions before the comment period ends.
What follows is my reading, and my own analysis.
FMCSA reports that between Aug. 1, 2017 and May 31, 2019 (22 months), they received 12,249 submissions through the DataQ’s system, which they call Request For Data Review (RDR’s). Of those requests, 5,619 met the criteria of at least one of the eight acceptable categories. That’s 45.9% of RDR’s that were actually scrutinized, rejecting 54.1% that were not reviewed because they did not fall into one of the pre-defined categories. FMCSA does nothing to summarize the rejected RDR’s. That would have been interesting to know what was there.
I have always believed that the pilot program should have been open to all crashes with the burden on the motor carrier to submit compelling evidence of non-preventability. It would have been a better pilot if we had used all crashes to organize categories, rather than pre-selecting based on opinions. So, we should be clear, a MINORITY of submitted RDR’s were reviewed. (NOTE: FMCSA states that 56% met the criteria. This looks like a small math error as 5619/12,249 does not equal 56%.)
Of the RDR’s reviewed, 69.9% were in the category: Commercial Motor vehicle (CMV) was struck from the rear. A distant second place, at 7.9% was: CMV struck while legally parked. You can see the breakdown of all categories on page 6/7 of the Notice.
During the pilot period, all qualified RDR’s were held for 30 days following determination so that any interested party could submit information in opposition to the determination. FMCSA reports that not a single public comment was submitted during the pilot period. They have, therefore, proposed to streamline the permanent program by removing this public comment component.
The Notice states that the Safety Measurement System (SMS) website will be updated when non-preventable crashes are determined. To translate, this means official CSA Scores will now reflect the removal of non-preventable crashes for both Motor Carrier and Driver.
The category shifts are the meat of the Notice. There are some interesting proposals in here. Some are positive, some less so, some need further clarity, and some are just downright mysteries. I still wonder why we need to pre-categorize at all.
On page five of the Notice, FMCSA lists the eight acceptable categories from the pilot program. My table below aligns pilot to permanent for ease of comparison. The order does not represent any priority or number of RDR’s in that category. There is nothing alphabetical about the categories and they don’t seem to have astrological significance.
We don’t need pre-invented categories or to show the data on all the rejected crashes and explain why they could not be reviewed, and why the data supports these category definitions. Use the trained reviewers burdened with the submitting motor carrier to show enough evidence using the PAR’s and other data, technology, video, telematics, AV Tech, witnesses, etc. There are as many fact patterns to crashes as there are crashes. Let’s determine which are preventable and which are not.
A significant amount of clarity is needed in many of these categories. For instance:
I’ll make one up as a hypothetical to illustrate potential conflict.
OV Driver under the influence partially crosses the center line, which causes a deer to be spooked and leap onto the roadway. This scares OV2 driver who has a medical issue and faints, resulting in OV crash into a bridge abutment causing a big chunk of concrete to fall off into the path of a CMV. The CMV swerves and successfully avoids the concrete chunk by partially crossing the center line…but ends up striking the very same deer whose lifeless body flies into a tree, that which then falls onto the roadway and into the path of a second CMV, who ultimately has the recordable crash.
So, again, why do we need to pre-define categories?
I encourage all interested parties to do their due diligence and read the Notice. Then, make your opinions heard in the now active 60-day window. You can get started giving them your thoughts here.
Every single day, there are more than 16,000 car accidents in the United States alone. In half of them, someone suffers an injury. As an employer, you may not be able to completely mitigate the risk of car accidents among your employees and fleet drivers, but you can take precautions to make sure that your drivers are as safe as possible.
One such precaution is the creation and enforcement of a safety policy for everyone who drives a vehicle on the clock for your company. You don’t need to have a fleet of commercial drivers for these safety tips to apply to you. Any company whose employees or contractors operate any vehicle, including personally-owned vehicles, for work is liable for their actions and behaviors.
Here are some important tips to help employers build and enforce a good safety policy.
Regardless of which rules you put in place, your safety policy will rely on transparency and communication if it’s going to have an impact. Just as safety is paramount in every piece of a factory’s operations, your company’s commitment to safety and the terms of your driving rules need to be in the front of your employees’ minds every time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Small reminders can also help employees keep safety top of mind . A safety slogan in an email signature, mentions of driver safety in meetings, recognition of great drivers, and company-wide emails or newsletters with an emphasis on safety are all good ways to remind employees that safety is a priority.
If you want your drivers to embrace a culture of safe driving, your policies need to be universal. A comprehensive driving policy should include a no-exceptions seat belt policy, continuous motor vehicle record (MVR) monitoring, a clear explanation of your MVR review policy for both new and ongoing drivers, the training that’s expected and available to your employees, the process by which infractions are reviewed, and whether the policy extends to personal vehicle use.
Furthermore, you need to ensure that the policy is written clearly and accessible to anyone and everyone that it covers, including new hires. You don’t want any room for confusion when it comes to the exact wording of a policy, how it will be enforced, or to whom it applies. Rules and the consequences for breaking them should be clear, simple, and consistent.
It’s also important that rules be consistently enforced. No one gets a pass on violating the safety policy — it doesn’t matter if you’re just driving around the corner, if you’re in a hurry, or if you’re the CEO — rules are rules. Inconsistent enforcement will lead to resentment and a lax attitude on safety.
Seatbelts are one of the simplest ways to foster a culture of driver safety, but nearly 30 million Americans still don’t buckle up on a regular basis. Make no exceptions to this rule. Whether it’s for short drives or long hauls, every person in a vehicle has to buckle up before it moves. Emphasize this policy in work vehicles and personal vehicles alike.
A seat belt policy isn’t the end-all, be-all of driver safety, but it serves as an excellent example of personal and corporate responsibility, as well as responsibility for the safety of others. Some companies even go so far as to put cameras on their premises so they can track what percentage of their employees arrive at work wearing a seatbelt. They then publish the results and incentivize compliance for everyone.
Not every company owns their own vehicles, but if you do, you have the opportunity to choose vehicles that prioritize safety for drivers, passengers, and communities. Safe driving is a two-way street. It’s hypocritical to demand safe driving practices from your employees if you’re not offering them vehicles that can keep them safe and optimize their safe-driving practices.
If you do purchase your own company vehicles, be sure to emphasize their safety features to your employees and customers. Calling attention to the safety of your vehicles will remind your drivers that safety is a priority, encouraging a culture of conducting business as safely as possible.
Last year, a Cleveland bus driver made the news for driving 40 years — and 1.2 million miles — without a preventable accident. The standard set by the Cleveland RTA is that drivers have fewer than 14 preventable accidents per million miles, so his accomplishments were rightly celebrated.
You can do the same at your company, celebrating mileage and time milestones without an accident, moving violation, or unsafe behavior. Recognition can come in many forms — mentions in company newsletters, press releases to local news, commendations from executives, or even gifts — and drivers who see such recognition will know that safety is valued, emphasized, and rewarded.
Many companies only pull motor vehicle records for their drivers at the time of hire. For commercial drivers, they might pull records once a year. But a lot can happen in the other 364 days of the year between MVR checks.
If one of your drivers gets into an accident and injures someone, the other party’s lawyer will likely check their driving records. If it turns out that they had a DUI and an accident in the last few months, since the last time you checked their records, it will call into question why you were allowing this employee to drive for you in the first place.
That’s why continuous driver monitoring is so important. Rather than manually pulling (and paying for) a new MVR every month, SambaSafety monitors MVRs for changes. If a change is submitted to a monitored driver’s record, we pull a new one and let you know. If no change occurs, you don’t have to waste time and money checking a new MVR.
Make sure your drivers know that their MVRs are being continuously monitored. Not only will this policy create a culture of responsibility and accountability, but it will emphasize to them that your company will not tolerate unsafe driving practices.
It bears mentioning that an unenforced safety policy is almost worse than no safety policy at all. Not only creating a policy but also enforcing it uniformly without bias, automatically without human error, and in a timely manner is crucial.
You should also have practices in place to review new violations, assess their severity, and determine an appropriate consequence. Remember, enforcing safe driving habits isn’t just about avoiding a lawsuit — it’s about encouraging your employees to be positive members of your community and stewards of safety. A culture of safety is part of most other corporate functions, and driving should be no exception. Take the next step by reviewing Continuous Driver Monitoring: The Legal Landscape.
As part of our ATA-organized visit to select Congressional leaders involved in trucking safety regulation, key members of our Executive Leadership team met with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and his team on April 11 in Washington, DC. Senator Gardner sits on Commerce Committee (oversees transportation) and the Transportation & Safety subcommittee. During the meeting both parties left wanting to continue the conversation and to build a deeper relationship.
On Friday July 12th, it was SambaSafety’s honor to host the Senator and continue our discussions on the critical issue of transportation safety. Senator Gardner met our talented Denver team and discussed our innovations leveraging data to help enhance the safety culture of our customers.
SambaSafety has been dedicated to the safety of drivers and communities for decades. To that end, we’ve been meeting with select congressional leaders who are directly involved in trucking safety regulation. Based on his background, Senator Gardner is uniquely positioned to make an impact on the regulations that will directly affect commercial truckers all over Colorado and nationwide.
Senator Gardner has also regarded transportation and infrastructure as high priorities throughout his tenure, emphasizing investment in infrastructure as crucial to supporting a growing economy. Colorado boasts one of the largest airports in the world, as well as major hubs for several national shipping companies, so Senator Gardner has always known the importance of shipping infrastructure for our state.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to better align the compliance and reporting process with the safety risks that actually cause crashes. An independent review found that while the CSA program is doing its job, it has not been able to keep up with the volume of truckers that it needs to oversee.
As a result, 86 percent of carriers nationwide do not receive a safety score from the FMCSA under the current CSA scoring system.
In a report from the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, it was noted that the current CSA system used inconsistent assessments, didn’t always account for fault in crashes, used measures that were independent to specific states, and was not predictive of a carrier’s future risk.
As a result, the panel recommended a new, “more statistically principled approach” based on item response theory (IRT), which has been used in analyzing SAT tests, hospital rankings, and other large-scale statistical analysis.
In July of 2018, the FMCSA released a new plan for the CSA program, based on an IRT model. The details of the plan have not been released to the public, but SambaSafety’s own executive VP and GM of Transportation, Steve Bryan, has been sitting in on every meeting of the NAS panel as it develops its recommendations.
The main takeaway lesson has been that predicting future crashes is nearly impossible. “The existing CSA program is about predicting crash risk,” Bryan said. “None of us believe that ever worked. It does a terrible job. In some of the BASICs, some are not only not positively correlated, they’re negatively correlated, specifically the drug and alcohol BASIC — to where if you followed that logic, you should drink and smoke dope and get behind the wheel of a truck.”
Instead, the research indicates, carriers should focus on a culture of safe driving. Carriers will be analyzed based on patterns of unsafe behavior, rather than the much-maligned severity weight system that ranked carriers based on comparisons to their peers and recency of offenses.
It was an honor to host and continue the conversation with Senator Gardner. Not only was the conversation productive with regard to policy, but also a welcome opportunity to showcase our talent, our products, and our team.
SambaSafety’s Qorta provides access to critical driver information, turning data into action that makes roads and communities safer.
Qorta is a SaaS risk management and data analytics platform. The platform is designed to make driver safety simpler, more reliable, and accessible to any business whose employees drive for work on a regular basis.
More than just a database, Qorta injects intelligence and workflow into the data analysis process, allowing employees to act quickly, make informed decisions, and make their operations and communities safer.
If you have employees or contractors driving for work, you need driver data monitoring. Any time one of your employees drives for work, even in their own car, your company can be held liable for their driving habits, violations, or accidents. The risks and costs of poor drivers on your payroll can be staggering.
Keep in mind that a “driver” doesn’t only mean commercial truck drivers. SambaSafety has solutions to help you monitor every type of driver population.
With Q License, a product on the Qorta platform, you’ll know the driving status of every employee in your company at all times, not just if you pull their driving records every year. All you have to do is tell Qorta who your drivers are and we’ll do the rest. Near real-time monitoring will automatically alert you if any of your drivers’ records reflect new negative driver activity, when it happens. Each driver is scored and placed in a risk category, allowing you to focus on your highest risk drivers, coach drivers who are trending in the wrong direction and reward your best drivers. Having access to proactive information will prove your company’s commitment to safety and allow you to protect what’s most important — your company, your drivers, and your community.
Qorta also offers a number of workflow tools to easily keep your driver roster current. Bulk driver list upload and custom driver groups allow you to track each driver without missing crucial information, while normalized reporting from state to state unifies reporting when different violations don’t use the same language. You’ll receive new activity alerts and email alerts if anything changes, and you can manage and update driver information at any time.
Q Transportation combines data from state MVR and federal CSA data to provide the industry’s only complete driver and carrier scorecard view that helps companies with regulated drivers act on the most current insights and changes to driver records. Qorta is convenient and easy to use, allowing hiring and talent management experts to make more intelligent decisions, act in a timely fashion, and create safer operations and communities.
Qorta isn’t just about keeping your company secure from liability, it’s about encouraging a culture of safety and responsibility among your employees. Every time they take the wheel, their driving habits will reflect on your company culture and your standing in the community. You want to make sure that they’re conducting themselves as well on the road as they do in the office.
The Qorta monitoring platform includes a wide range of utilities to help you keep your drivers and your company out of the press and court.
Q License provides detailed insights into high-, medium-, and low-risk drivers — including the ability to monitor status and violations, score each driver by risk level, purchase additional records on demand, sync MVRs, and obtain electronic releases — all in one easy-to-use platform.
Q Transportation pulls CSA (compliance, safety, and accountability) data into a robust scorecard view, offering you actionable information so that you can make well-informed safety decisions. Q Transportation generates carrier scorecards, driver scorecards, IRT scorecards, and tracks daily inspections and violations for regulated drivers.
In the end, driver safety is about more than just minimizing company liability in the event of an accident. Your goal as a business owner should be to ensure that your employees and your community are kept safe by verifying that everyone who drives a vehicle on behalf of your company is properly vetted and monitored. Qorta gives you that peace of mind.
Today marks the launch date of SambaSafety’s newest product, Q Transportation. Ironically, last Wednesday’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit hearing in D.C., Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America, was perhaps the exclamation point as to why Q Transportation was built.
Q Transportation represents the productization of the vision we had when we combined Vigillo and SambaSafety a little over two years ago. At any new product launch, a good Marketer would start expounding on all the features and benefits of their product line. In this case, that would be the features and benefits of Q Transportation as an expansion of our industry leading driver monitoring platform, Qorta. A good Salesperson would be setting appointments and booking flights. A good Product Manager would be right on their heels polling and surveying customers to start lining up the next wave of innovation driven by feedback from early adopters.
Trust me. We’re going to do all of those things.
However, first, having just watched several hours of live video of Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America, I feel compelled to focus on summarizing for you what I learned and why now, more than ever, it is vital that Q Transportation exists.
As an industry, we need to redouble our focus on safety, collect and analyze more and better data from more sources, and make that data available in a meaningful way to all stakeholders in truck safety.
The hearing kicked off with testimony from witnesses who represented safety advocates, motor carriers and suppliers, owner-operators, unions, freight brokers, and law enforcement. Each witness gave a brief presentation followed by committee members’ Q&A. During the next several hours, the challenges and opportunities facing the American Trucking Industry were laid bare. Issues include increasing crash and fatality statistics, rising insurance costs, driver retention, inadequate funding to support crumbling infrastructure, pilot testing of 18 year old drivers, congestion, inflexible HOS rules, too much regulation, too little regulation, bigger trucks, a lack of truck parking, detention time at shipper and receiver docks, CSA Scores, new A/V technology, new technology-based safety features, the economy, new challenges in drug testing, and reauthorization of the FAST Act. Whew, what a plate-full! My industry empathy meter just increased tenfold.
Near the end, one of the committee members asked the witnesses to name one thing, just one, that Congress could enact today that they all would agree would enhance safety in trucking. There was not a single point of agreement. This brilliant, professional, and experienced group of experts could not name one single thing they could all agree upon to make trucking safer. I would like to offer one single thing. It all boils down to a single statement: Be Proactive.
It is in this environment of disagreement that today’s safety and risk professional must navigate, and this environment must be approached proactively. We cannot afford to let things happen and then react. I believe what we witnessed in the hearing this week is equivalent to a physical exam, a checkup of the pains of a trucking industry that is under tremendous pressure. If one of us had a physical exam and were diagnosed with even a few of these pains, we would immediately be put on a program of diet, exercise, medication and lifestyle review. Our doctor would get proactive, deploy a plan, and monitor our results, well into the future.
Being proactive and deploying monitoring of critical safety measures is the mission of SambaSafety and that mission manifests itself in Q Transportation. There is a lot of talk currently about Safety Culture and how we can evaluate positive vs. deficient safety culture in trucking. A reactive approach in today’s environment is simply not compatible with a positive safety culture — and we’re proud to offer the first and only MVR and CSA monitoring solution to help your organization reach and maintain its safety goals.
We at SambaSafety are dedicated to safety and providing the innovative solutions our customers need to run safer. That vision is now embodied in the solution, Q Transportation. It is available to every regulated motor carrier who operates under DOT authority in the United States. Our mission is simple: to get you the information you need, when you need it, so you can proactively bring your trucks home safely every day.
In the dozen years that I have been involved in the Trucking Industry, I have met many amazing people and seen advances in safety technology, data, and analytics that are mind-boggling. I have met hundreds of business owners and executives who operate their businesses with a vision of literally delivering America, but a mission built on Safety. If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it 100 times – competition stops at safety’s door.
In 2007, I founded Vigillo and now proudly serve as an executive with SambaSafety. While SambaSafety is a supplier to the industry and exists as a for-profit business, we live and breathe the mission of safety.
Change has been constant in my industry tenure and perhaps none as momentous as the pending changes to the foundation of the CSA scoring methodology – used by industry and the FMCSA to gauge a carrier’s commitment to safety.
The specific topic is the work SambaSafety, and previously Vigillo, has done to work through the transition from CSA to the new IRT Model as defined by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) in their report of June 2017:
Change as big as the shift from CSA Classic to an IRT model has led to a robust debate among industry participants. Below are excerpts from some concerns we’ve heard and our response.
We didn’t guess at the design of the model. Just the opposite. NAS provided a 130-page roadmap that describes in detail the IRT model. With counsel from IRT experts, we followed that roadmap to produce our preview.
Moreover, we have a strong track record helping the industry to anticipate and interpret the CSA scoring methodology. Vigillo released the industry’s first CSA management platform in 2008, two full years before the official launch by FMCSA.
We have helped support changes to the CSA program, culminating in the FAST ACT and the IRT recommendation. In its early years, I provided data to illustrate CSA deficiencies to Congress as CSA criticism grew after its launch. I collaborated with the American Trucking Associations and others in the development of the language that was inserted into the FAST Act which ultimately launched CSA Reform. At the request of the ATA, I gave the industry comments at the first meeting of the NAS and accompanied the ATA Chairman in the delivery of those comments. Over the next 18 months, I attended every public meeting held by NAS. Before the draft report was published publicly, I was one of the primary reviewers. Ultimately, I led the efforts at SambaSafety to retain the services of IRT experts including one of the NAS Panelists.
Back in 2008, Vigillo gave thousands of motor carriers a preview of what CSA was, how it worked, and how it would impact their safety programs. Advance knowledge of these kinds of significant changes at FMCSA is essential. That’s why we’re doing it again with IRT.
The NAS report provided for a two-year timeline following the initial 18-month study. That would call for implementation in June of 2019. FMCSA has stated publicly that its target is September 2019, not significantly behind.
Our best information says that we’ll see careful rollout and solicitation of industry feedback over the following six months. Full implementation is expected in Q2 2020. The reforms are moving along pretty much as outlined in the FAST Act.
IRT produces very different results for many carriers. IRT uses a methodology that is easy to interpret but nearly impossible for a non-statistician to calculate. Many of our customers want a preview of their IRT score to be included in the discussion, right from the start. It’s imperative for them to know how their safety culture will be assessed and it allows them to provide informed feedback to the FMCSA during the solicitation period.
At SambaSafety, we live the mission of safety, and we innovate. We invest in R&D and are continually building new products and services to serve that mission. We think our job is to get there first. We have a proven track record of doing that time and time again. Our customers benefit from our ability to anticipate change, understand formerly hidden risks, participate in the discussion of the new model and prepare for a two-year look back.
It’s a choice to be proactive and get involved early to anticipate significant industry changes like IRT. Hundreds of carriers are making that choice. We think that’s a good thing for safety.
It does, no question about it.
Let’s look at three of the defects of CSA as it exists today:
First, Safety Event Groups, as constructed today, group carriers in an attempt to compare similar carriers. It has never worked well and has some problematic side effects. Five of the seven Groups are based on inspection count. A carrier can move from one group to another by virtue of just one inspection, even a clean inspection, and scores spike dramatically as a carrier moves up the ladder in Safety Event Groups. Related to this, a Carrier’s CSA Measure produces very different CSA Percentile Scores depending on what group they are in. As a result, Carrier A with a BASIC Score of say 50% is not comparable to Carrier B with 50% in a different Group.
IRT does away with Safety Event Groups in favor of a Risk Exposure Index. IRT utilizes this Exposure Index which is created by blending Power Unit Count, Driver Count, VMT and Inspection Count to normalize carriers for comparison purposes. No groups to leap between and all carriers scores are comparable to each other.
Second, Law Enforcement Disparity has always plagued CSA. CMV Enforcement on the New Jersey Turnpike is a very different animal than enforcement at the Texas border. Our country is vast, diverse, and immensely challenging from an enforcement perspective. Enforcement knows their unique challenges and focuses on the specifics that they believe enhances safety in their own back yards. CSA does not formally recognize these challenges and punishes carriers who operate in targeted enforcement zones vs. carriers who do business elsewhere.
IRT is not about the frequency of violations. IRT looks at patterns of violations; it’s not just counting them. As a result, the wild swings we see in CSA Scores due to disparate enforcement are largely smoothed out.
Third, CSA today cannot score a carrier with insufficient inspection data. As a result, only about 100,000 carriers receive any CSA Score at all. IRT has a lower threshold for what constitutes sufficient data for it to evaluate and provides scores for almost 200,000 carriers.
There are other improvements that IRT brings in terms of a more scientific foundation, ability to adapt to changing patterns in the data and it is set up well for additional data to be added in the future. We can hardly imagine the magnitude of varying types and amounts of data that trucking operations will generate in the future. IRT is uniquely capable of incorporating new types of data to make continuous improvements to our understanding of what constitutes an excellent Safety Culture in the Trucking Industry.
SambaSafety is proud to be here in force as one of your Allied partners. We’re exhibiting, presenting, and sponsoring at what is one of our favorite events of the year.
Almost everything you know about CSA is changing, and Sambasafety is at the forefront of helping carriers understand those dramatic changes and the new methodology called Item Response Theory (IRT). IRT produces a new generation of CSA Scores including a new single Safety Culture Score. For TCA Attendees only, stop by and visit us at booth 428, drop off your business card, and we’ll follow up after the show and give you a free, sneak peek at your new scores. Just write “Sneak Peek” on your business card and drop it with us at the booth.
We love Vegas, but don’t gamble on being caught off guard when the new scores release later this year. Let us show you how it all works and how the new IRT/CSA will evaluate your safety culture.
Do you know who’s behind the wheel for your company?
Let’s begin with a question: Do you know who is behind the wheel? The reality is that for many enterprises with employees who drive as part of their job, the answer is, “I think so,” or maybe, “no.” Driver risk management has recently become a top issue for many organizations since it directly affects budgets and the bottom line.
The fact that there are more than 100 million people driving for work-related activities on U.S. roads and many of them have invalid, suspended or no driver’s license at all should be cause enough for concern.
But combining this with the facts that: 1) most organizations’ budgets are, at best, flat; 2) P&C insurance rates are rising 14% every 2 years; 3) 90% of crashes are due to human error; 4) there are fewer qualified drivers available today, and; 5) the number of lawsuits around negligence are skyrocketing. It becomes clear that understanding exposure to driver risk, and understanding best practices for driver risk management, is imperative for every organization. What you don’t know can hurt your bottom line.
Employers lose an estimated $60 billion a year and nearly 3 million workdays to motor vehicle accidents. Of that total, nearly $40 billion is directly attributable to on-the-job crashes involving employees.
Interested in learning more? Download the white paper on Best Practices for Driver Risk Management.
Scopelitis law firm explains the legal environment surrounding driver risk exposure and the advantages of driver monitoring.
In 2009, Eduardo Delgado, an employee of Xerox, was driving a company vehicle when he struck and killed 63-year-old Elvira Gomez in California as she crossed the street on her way home from church. Delgado was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time and had a history of at least two prior DUIs. Mrs. Gomez’s adult children and husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Xerox, arguing among other things that Xerox was negligent in allowing Delgado to drive a vehicle without first checking his Motor Vehicle Report (“MVR”)—a fact admitted by Xerox—which would have revealed his prior DUIs. In fact, had Xerox checked Delgado’s driving record, it would have discovered that his license was actually suspended due to his DUIs. After a lengthy trial, the case ultimately settled, with Xerox agreeing to pay Ms. Gomez’s family $5 million for their loss.
“The most common direct-liability theories in highway-accident cases are negligent hiring, negligent selection, and negligent entrustment.”Unfortunately, the Xerox case is not an outlier; it is one of many in which companies have been forced to pay millions of dollars in damages due to accidents caused by the employees or contractors they put behind the wheel. The legal theories upon which these companies are held liable vary from case to case and from state to state, but they share some common themes.
Unfortunately, the Xerox case is not an outlier; it is one of many in which companies have been forced to pay millions of dollars in damages due to accidents caused by the employees or contractors they put behind the wheel. The legal theories upon which these companies are held liable vary from case to case and from state to state, but they share some common themes.
As a general rule, employers¹ are vicariously liable for any motor vehicle accidents caused by their employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which imputes the conduct of the employee to his/her employer under agency principles. Of course, there could be exceptions to the rule, including, for example, if the employee is operating the vehicle outside the scope of his/her employment when the accident occurs. But generally speaking, employers—and their insurers—will be held responsible for any damages stemming from their employees’ accidents.
At the same time, an employer could also be directly liable to the injured party(ies) if the employer’s own independent negligence was the proximate cause of the injuries.² This liability is distinct from vicarious liability in the sense that the latter is premised on the employer’s master/servant relationship with its employee, whereas the former is premised on the employer’s own actions or inactions. This type of “direct” liability is at the heart of this paper, and it’s precisely the issue that Xerox faced in its lawsuit. It is also the type of liability that can open the door to punitive damages (i.e., those meant to punish the company for its egregious conduct) on top of compensatory damages already awarded to the injured party. The most common direct-liability theories in high-way-accident cases are negligent hiring, negligent selection, and negligent entrustment. Under these theories, the injured party alleges that the company was negligent in allowing its employee/subcontractor to operate a motor vehicle, and, but for that decision, the accident would never have occurred.
“Companies should be doing something to ensure the individuals who drive vehicles in connection with their employment are safe.” Often, the company’s alleged negligence is premised on its failure to adequately vet the employee’s driving history before allowing him/her to operate a vehicle on the company’s behalf. In Xerox’s case, for example, the plaintiffs alleged that the company was negligent in failing to check its employee’s MVR, which would have revealed his prior DUIs and the fact that his license was suspended. What precisely is a company’s duty with respect to vetting its drivers before allowing them to operate a vehicle? Unfortunately, that’s a question with no definitive answer—one often left to the judge or jury to decide what a “reasonable” company would have done under the circumstances. What’s clear, however, is that companies should be doing some-thing to ensure the individuals who drive vehicles in connection with their employment are safe. And the most prudent something involves verifying the driver has a valid license and checking his/her MVR for prior violations/accidents, at a minimum. As addressed in the next section, for companies that are subject to federal and/or state motor carrier safety regulations, this is a legal requirement. But even for those who are not, it is best practice.
¹ Companies that engage independent contractors to operate motor vehicles on their behalf rather than employees may not be vicariously liable for the contractor’s operation of those vehicles, but this depends on a number of factors, including, for example, whether the state law at issue considers the operation of a motor vehicle to be an “inherently dangerous” activity and whether companies have “non-delegable duties” with respect to their operation. Additionally, pursuant to federal and state leasing regulations, motor carriers who contract with independent-contractor owner-operators are generally vicariously liable for any accidents caused by those owner-operators as a matter of law. And regardless of whether companies utilize employees or independent contractors to operate vehicle, the companies could still be directly liable for damages stemming from the companies’ own negligence.
² Some state laws, but certainly not all, provide that an employer who is vicariously liable for its employee’s conduct cannot be separately liable to the injured plaintiff under a theory of direct liability.