It’s practically conventional wisdom now: If you are going to manage your motor carrier’s CSA scores, you must manage your individual drivers’ scores.  But the problem is: How best to manage and measure your individual drivers’ scores?  Ask three safety directors how they measure their drivers, and you will typically will hear three different answers…and no wonder!  Although the FMCSA computes seven BASIC scores for every single CMV driver for which it has data, and although the FMCSA allows law enforcement to use these same scores during interventions, the FMCSA will not release these scores to motor carriers or to the drivers themselves!

Vigillo has tackled this very complex issue – and I have bad news and good news for you.  In this series, I’ll talk about the the five main problems with the assorted driver scoring systems that are prevalent out there (the bad news), and I will also point you toward a solution (the good news).  Ready?  here we go…

You can see the five main problems with many driver scoring systems in the graphic above.  I will tackle each one of these items in subsequent blog posts.  In this first post, I want to talk about why these problems are important.  A different way to think about this is:
Why is it critical that you have the ability to see your drivers the same way the FMCSA sees them?  Over a cup of coffee and a closed office door, a few answers present themselves:

It’s important to be able to see my drivers as the FMCSA does because:

  • I want to improve my motor carrier scores.  Your individual drivers’ on-road performance is the best leverage you have to affect your carrier scores.  Let’s face it – not all drivers have the same record.  You need to understand, from the FMCSA’s perspective, which drivers are having the biggest impact (negative and positive) on your fleet.
  • I have limited time and resources.  The old 80/20 rule applies here: Most of your problems are caused by a minority of your drivers.  Spend your limited time, money, and other resources focused on the drivers that actually warrant it.  If your goal is at all CSA-related, then you need to work from relevant, normalized CSA data.
  •  I am working to create a safety and CSA-positive culture.  If you are trying to reward positive behavior that helps the carrier and the driver, especially in terms of CSA, then it’s critical that you are rewarding the most positive behavior and challenging the negative behavior – especially as it affects CSA.  I hope it’s obvious here that if you are not crystal clear on what the road bumps and potholes of CSA are, you might be wasting time, inadvertently ignoring negative behavior (or even rewarding it!), and not praising performance that is creating positive outcomes for both drivers and carriers.  Really?  Yes, really.  I personally have seen the details on numerous driver recognition programs that didn’t get the nuts and bolts of CSA right – ultimately creating frustration and wasted energy for all concerned.
  •  CSA is ever-changing.  Even if you are rock-solid confident that your current driver scoring system accurately portrays how the FMCSA would prioritize your drivers, know that big changes are right around the corner.  For example – a preview version of the SMS Methodology, version 3.0 (PDF 4.2 MB) is already available!…and boy is it exciting!  The Cargo BASIC goes away!  A new HazMat BASIC is introduced! Violation severity weights go way up and way down!  Many other changes will occur as well – likely beginning in December 2012.  This is just one example of a change to the system.  We’ve already seen dozens of changes since CSA went live in December of 2010.  Your scoring system must be able to flex and adapt to the FMCSA evolving focus.

I hope this post provides a helpful lens from which to view your driver scoring system.  I am very sympathetic to safety professionals who have taken a stab at putting their own scoring system together, because, well, you have to do something, right?  Because there had been no definitive, effective, credible way to prioritize your drivers for review using the same criteria the FMCSA uses.  (Hint: There is now!)

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In the next post in this series (available HERE), I look at the first of the problems with scoring drivers – Normalizing CSA Points.  You can also watch the video of a recent webinar of me discussing these same problems HERE.