In the first post in this series, I talked about the benefits of a consistent, reliable driver scoring system that lets you see drivers from the FMCSA’s perspective.  In this post, we’ll look at the third problem a CSA driver scoring system needs to get right: Red Flag Violations.

Previously in this series, I’ve focused on the importance of normalizing CSA scores so we can compare all drivers against each other – drivers with many inspections, drivers with few inspections, etc. We want some kind of apples-to-apples comparison.  Red flag violations are a very different animal – arguably they are not even part of the CSA program.  Let’s dive in…

What Are Red Flag Violations?

I addressed this question at some length previously here.  Quick recap:  The FMCSA has declared some violations so terrible, so “egregious” even, that they treat these particular violations with the highest level of scrutiny.  Since the December 2012 update, there are now 16 red flag violations.  Here they are:


BASIC FMCSR Part Violation Description
Driver Fitness 383.21 Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with more than one driver’s license
Driver Fitness 383.23(a)(2) Operating a CMV without a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL)
Driver Fitness 383.51(a) Driving a CMV (CDL) while disqualified
Driver Fitness 383.51A-SIN Driving a CMV while CDL is suspended for a safety-related or unknown reason and in the state of driver’s license issuance
Driver Fitness 383.51A-SOUT Driving a CMV while CDL is suspended for safety-related or unknown reason and outside the driver’s license state of issuance.
Driver Fitness 383.91(a) Operating a CMV with improper CDL group
Driver Fitness 391.11 Unqualified driver
Driver Fitness 391.11(b)(5) Driver lacking valid license for type of vehicle being operated
Driver Fitness 391.11(b)(7) Driver disqualified from operating CMV
Driver Fitness 391.15(a) Driving a CMV while disqualified
Driver Fitness 391.15A-SIN Driving a CMV while disqualified. Suspended for safety-related or unknown reason and in the state of driver’s license issuance.
Driver Fitness 391.15A-SOUT Driving a CMV while disqualified. Suspended for a safety-related or unknown reason and outside the driver’s license state of issuance.
Controlled Substances/Alcohol 392.4(a) Driver uses or is in possession of drugs
Controlled Substances/Alcohol 392.5(a) Possession/use/under influence of alcohol less than 4 hours prior to duty
HOS Compliance 395.13(d) Driving after being declared out-of-service (OOS)
Vehicle Maintenance 396.9(c)(2) Operating an OOS vehicle


What happens if a driver gets a Red Flag Violation?

Essentially, you get more scrutiny from the FMCSA. The FMCSA says the following (emphasis added is mine):

“When investigating a motor carrier, a Safety Investigator (SI) looks at driver history for egregious violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). These violations are sometimes referred to as Red Flag Violations and are always investigated as part of a carrier investigation. The SI conducting the investigation looks to see if the violation has been corrected. At present, there are 16 such violations, though this list may be updated periodically. These violations are outlined in the table below, along with the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to which they correspond.”

There are also indications that the FMCSA monitors carriers who hire drivers with previous red flag violations – see article here.

So how should Red Flag Violations play into scoring drivers?

Well, as you can see, since the FMCSA treats red flag violations with some of their highest scrutiny, so doesn’t it make sense that carriers should too?

Here’s a hypothetical example: If you compare the performance of two drivers and they have the same CSA scores – points, percentiles across the 7 BASICs but one has a red flag violation, which driver should be more highly prioritized for review?  I’ll bet it did not take you long to agree that the driver with the red flag violation, at least in the eyes of the FMCSA, is the driver who deserves closer scrutiny.

The tricky part about this is that if you only focus on driver CSA scores, you’ll completely miss what the FMCSA considers the worst of the worst violations – red flag violations.

Red Flags in Vigillo’s Daylight Driver Index™

If the logic above makes sense – and I’m all caffeinated up so it should! – then it should follow as winter follows autumn that any defensible driver scoring system includes an appropriate weighting on the egregious red flag violations.  I am pleased to tell you that Vigillo incorporates Red Flag Violations into our single driver score, the Vigillo Daylight Driver Index™ (DDI).  Also, as far as I know we are the only place in this big old world that does so.  If you are making decisions about where your motor carrier’s limited time and resources are spent, make sure you are focusing on the right things for the right reasons -and using a single driver scoring system is a very good start.

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In my next article in this series (HERE), I look at the next problems with scoring drivers – Shadow Violations. You can also watch the video of a recent webinar of me discussing these same problems HERE.