How To Overcome the Sharp CSA Data Decline

Hear from Steve Bryan, SambaSafety’s Vice President and General Manager, Transportation, as he provides his thoughts around why the FMCSA is running on empty with CSA data.

Missed the previous blog? Read further and discover more on Roadside Inspections as a source of data, the importance of CSA data during a time like this, what the tracking is telling us and why the CSA data isn’t replenishing itself.

The sharp drop in activity and corresponding CSA points began early March and happened fast. The total value of CSA points available for April scores is reduced by 4.5 percent of what was available for March scores. That reduction came in just four weeks.

CHART ONE: CSA Points by Week February 2, 2020 – April 5, 2020

There’s not a crystal ball

Like everything else we’re working to track in this highly unusual COVID-19 period, the future is not easily predicted. FMCSA releases data monthly, and everything I have discussed here is based on the snapshot from April 24,2020. In a few weeks, we’ll get the May 2020 update and know a bit more.

SambaSafety’s data

In the meantime, we at SambaSafety see the data of our customers every day. As a proxy for what might be coming, I examined that customer data in aggregate. What it shows is that after what appeared to be a flattening of the curve with a turn upward, the inspection numbers appear to drop further in the past few weeks.

We’re seeing around 25 percent of all inspections in our customer data where the customer opts for daily updates, enough to make some reasonable judgement about what the next snapshot might look like.

CHART TWO: Inspection Count by Week December 15, 2019 – April 16, 2020

The final piece?

The final piece I wanted to look at is whether we can see any impact on CSA Scores. I have spoken to a few of those in the transportation industry as I embarked upon this examination and there is a belief that if CSA points are dropping, then everyone’s CSA Scores will be dropping as well. While it is true that if there were no data, there would be no scores, on that journey to zero we see that the road gets thin, weak and bumpy for carriers.

CHART THREE: Industry Average CSA Scores Most recent 12 months (Mar 2019 – Mar 2020)

It is difficult to glean much from the entire industries average CSA Scores (chart above) and until we see a monthly CSA update that incorporates the drop in March, we can only surmise what the depletion in CSA data might bring to scores.

Remember the following

Changing inspection counts can move carriers to different safety event (peer) groups. When that happens, scores can spike and drop for no valid reason.

Disparate state enforcement still plays a part. California remains closest to “normal” inspection levels, while Texas has dropped significantly, impacting carriers disproportionately based on vehicle miles traveled in certain states.

My two cents

Watch your numbers. Log in and watch your daily updates and violations through state maps reports. Set up daily alerts for your drivers. Make sure you are utilizing the mobile application to maximize daily inspections visibility.

I’ll update this analysis monthly and start watching this data on a state-by-state basis to see who is getting back to “normal.” Check back in soon and as always, a big thank you to truckers everywhere.