Letters: CSA Scores Revisited

This Letter to the Editor appear in the July 16 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

I am writing you in response to the letter titled “High CSA Scores” and printed in your June 11 issue (p. 6). On the topic of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new Compliance, Safety, Accountability program scores, the letter writer said: “Another discovery I made . . . was that many small motor carriers — the ones that would be classified as ‘mom-and-pop’ operators or ‘startups’ — have the same problems, but they usually don’t pay their drivers for miles or work done or operate ‘compliant, roadworthy equipment’ because their profit margins are way too slim to ensure that their equipment is safe. They often take unnecessary risks with safety and inspections in order to stay in business.”

I happen to be a “mom-and-pop” company that has been in existence since 1971 and, guess what? This is now 2012, and we are still in business and doing just fine.

We have watched many companies of all sizes come and go, from single-digit fleets to thousands. I would say that those who make it probably take care of business, and those that don’t, the industry itself will take care of them.

If I am not mistaken, every time I pull into a weigh station or inspection facility I am held to the same standards as the “big-box carriers.” My weight has to be correct; my lights have to be in proper working order, along with brakes and on down the line.

We keep logs and abide by the same laws as the “big-box carriers” that the letter writer says “are doing good work to ensure they are at the level of safety and compliance required for good CSA scores.” We also are monitored to assure we are in compliance. Whether empty or loaded, we pay the same rate to our drivers, and they are awarded a bonus for every clean inspection they receive.

However, there is one thing on which I do agree with the “over-the-road driver” who wrote that letter: Whether you are an owner-operator or a company driver, your Commercial Driver License record is very important because if it isn’t, neither my “mom-and-pop” business nor the “big-box companies” will employ you.

Companies of all sizes have the same set of guidelines to abide by to ensure safety for all the motorists and drivers on the highways. We take our CSA scores very seriously — as I am sure the “big-box carriers” do. So my advice is not to categorize safety by size of the company.

If you haven’t figured out by now, I am offended by that letter to the editor. And I’m also a little surprised you even printed it, unless the writer presented all his data to you for your own research.

Thank you for all the articles you print that are accurate and are a great source of information, but as far as this one went, it was a waste of your good time and ink to write.

Danny Ellis

Company owner

Rialto, Calif