One sure fire way to lower your CSA scores in a particular BASIC would be to avoid inspections, thus avoiding violations. Seems like a sound operating premise to me…….
Well, let me tell you a little tale about midwest carrier who adopted that approach, executed on that approach, and was rewarded with a nice yellow triangle on their public-facing SMS site.
This story illustrates, perhaps to the extreme, that gremlins are still lurking within the CSA Methodology and they’re nasty little buggers.
The issue in this case occurred in the Fatigued Driving BASIC. The carrier was over threshold in September and October of 2011. In December of 2011 they fell under threshold and appeared to be headed in right direction. But not so fast……..
Mysteriously, in January of 2012 the carrier found themselves back over threshold with a yellow alert symbol on SMS. One would think they probably had another violation or two that put them back over threshold. That is not the case. In fact, the last Fatigued Driving violation of any kind occurred back in May of 2011! Since that time they’ve been spotless. Not a single violation for hours of service.
What happened? Here’s where the gremlins get frisky. The carrier has avoided inspections and thus avoided violations. They are in Safety Event Group 3 for the Fatigued Driving BASIC. The inspection range for this group is 21-100 relevant inspections. This is an important detail because the number of relevant inspections is used in calculating your BASIC measure against other members of your Safety Event Group. To refresh: the BASIC measure equals the total time and severity weight of violations divided by total time weight of relevant inspections.
From October 2011 through February 2012 the carriers number of relevent inspections was as follows: 25, 24, 23, 22, 22. In the same time period, October through February, their BASIC measure was as follows (REMEMBER: they had ZERO violations during this time frame): 1.6, 1.44, 1.55, 1.77, 1.87.
The carrier has successfully avoided inspections and violations. However, this demonstrates the disadvantage of being at the low end of a Safety Event Group. The math simply works against this carrier because the denominator in the equation to calculate their BASIC measure is smaller than a carrier with say, 95 relevant inspections.
This is a case where avoiding inspections has worked against the carrier. It reduced the denominator in the calculation and ended up raising their BASIC measure.
So I guess the next time I get asked how to best lower a BASIC percentile ranking I’ll have to say “just avoid inspections and you’ll avoid violations, BUT…….I’ve been known to lie.”