We’ve all heard how having high CSA scores is a bad thing: loss of clients, increased insurance rates, potential for good drivers to leave, increased scrutiny by the FMCSA, blah blah blah.
But what if you’re okay? What if none of your CSA scores are currently over the intervention threshold? What do you have to worry about then? Can’t I just stick my head in the sand and ignore CSA? It can’t hurt me!
Well, just because you’re under the thresholds doesn’t mean your insurance company isn’t keeping an eye out on you. Many are monitoring CSA for sudden spikes in BASIC percentiles or are keeping track of fleets that are getting close: often trying to intervene before a fleet hits that alert symbol threshold. Having insufficient data or no inspection data for a BASIC will notify roadside inspectors that this fleet may need an inspection (see details: The New ISS: How Motor Carriers With Insufficient Data Are Treated). So if you’re a fleet with NO inspection data, you’re still at risk for increased scrutiny by the FMCSA.
If you’re close to threshold, less than 10% below, there’s a good chance one bad inspection may be enough to push you over. Many fleets have been on the wrong side of this; and once you’re over, it’s a tough climb back down. Vigillo has been watching CSA trends closely and over the past few months, we’ve seen that there are approximately 50,000 fleets with alerts every month. This has been consistent, especially for the past 5 months. As this number has been consistent month over month, many believe that it’s the same fleets with alerts. Well, we did a deeper analysis and found that 9% of these fleets will drop out of alert status next month. This means, that there are roughly 4,000 fleets coming in/going out of this bucket of fleets in alert status.
That’s a steady churn of fleets coming and going every month.
Maybe you’ve got one BASIC over the intervention threshold and you’ve received your letter from the FMCSA that you should be monitoring your scores. You’ve been keeping an eye on your BASICs and have made some changes as to how your fleet handles training and incoming inspections and driver involvement/intervention. Your team is feeling good since you’ve been seeing some slight improvements in your OOS percentages, fewer inspections, fewer violations, etc. But something isn’t right. Your performance as a fleet has been improving, but your BASIC percentiles are barely shifting!
This comes to the nasty little bit of CSA. Because you are being compared to other fleets, that benchmark of being below the intervention/alert threshold will always be shifting. What we’ve seen is that these Safety Event Groups are improving over time, which forces fleets to constantly be improving. So, a fleet that has not changed their performance over the past year may see their percentile ranks rise!
So, if you want to, you can stick your head in the sand and ignore CSA. Be like the ostrich who sticks it’s head in the sand and thinks to itself, “I can’t see you so you can’t see me!” But sadly, as 5 of your BASICs are public knowledge, they can see you. Ignoring CSA may work for some…. for now… for the ostrich.