Article originally written for Grizella LLC
October 26, 2016
Since the passing of 2015’s FAST (“Fixing America’s Surface Transportation”) Act, carriers’ compliance, safety and accountability scores (CSA scores) have been temporarily removed from public view, leading to a select group of companies developing their own systems of determining a safety score based on information still available to the public.
Among safety score generating software, SaferWatch CSA-e percentile scores stand out because the methodology used is believed to be the most comparable to the ‘still in effect’ CSA scores calculated by FMCSA. Using CSA-e percentile scores makes sense in a comprehensive and proactive approach to evaluating the total picture of a carrier’s safety and compliance health. CSA-e percentile scores are subject to rigorous testing and research–testing and research that have turned up some fascinating new forms of fraud.
Obfuscation in the marketplace has led to less-than-scrupulous carriers doctoring their CSA scores on their final printed score sheet to give the appearance of compliance with a shipper’s contract terms. Since the CSA scores being calculated by the FMCSA aren’t public, these carriers would’ve slipped by undiscovered if not for the use of SaferWatch by the shipper comparing their CSA-e percentile scores with the carrier-provided CSA scores.
This sort of fraudulent self-reporting is a lesson for all shippers to carry an umbrella even when praying for sunshine. Many Shipper/Broker and Shipper/Carrier contracts require that a carrier’s CSA BASICs remain below the percentiles indicated by the FMCSA for intervention as part of that carrier’s duty for compliance. Even, and especially, in a world without public FMCSA scores, it pays for a shipper to be proactive about their potential liability.
While compliance is usually managed by requiring a carrier to turn in their own CSA BASICs report monthly, quarterly, or annually, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of other sources of safety score information against which to compare the carrier’s self-report. In fact, it can often hurt a shipper to not take an active interest in pursuing safety information–consider the shippers caught unaware by fraudulent carrier safety scorecards. In the words of Jim Dykstra from Boar’s Head Logistics, “Knowledge is insurance against liability…not knowing is no excuse”.
Dykstra continues that a “lack of safety assessment is a lack of due diligence” in a shipper’s brand, underscoring the importance of using a CSA-comparable score to identify fraud. A shipper is only as good as the effort they put into determining safety, and only as liable as the effort they don’t.