Home > All Mercertown Blog Posts > MERCER SAFETY SCORES


I’m going to try to get Jason off the hook regarding the driver safety scores. His comment section had a bunch of good questions. I was impressed with Big Ron’s score….WOW! Here’s how it works:

Every carrier uses their own scoring system. At Mercer, a driver’s score is based upon DOT inspections (CSA points), moving violation convictions, preventable accidents, cargo claims and bad road surveys. Each of these have point values. A driver is allowed up to 200 points in any current three year period. Reaching the 200 point threshold qualifies a driver for the Mercer Alumni Society. I am the membership chairman of that group.

On our system, it is possible to get credit points to reduce a driver’s score. Credit points are given for clean DOT inspections, good road surveys, Alabama coil certificate/New York coil endorsement, attendence at safety seminars, other additional training and safety briefings given by me around the country when I do LKY inspections in the field. For that reason, not only is it possible to get a zero score, it is possible to get a negative (credit) score. I let drivers bank points. We have folks that have -40 scores, which is really fantastic. Then there is Big Ron. Whatever.

Scoring is done by both me and Michelle Scott, my Administrative Assistant. Scoring is triggered by a number of items: A DOT inspection, a moving violation conviction, a preventable accident, a road survey or a cargo claim will put a driver in the scoring stack. We get a daily electronic feed of DOT inspections, so many times that scoring is done before we ever receive a driver’s DOT inspection sheet. To date, more than 1,200 drivers have been scored. Quite a few have been scored several times as they get more DOT inspections. There are at least 300 drivers here who have none of the above, nada, zip, goose egg, thus a zero score. There is no team score, each driver is looked at individually. We do have a number of teams where one drive has a score and the other does not (yet).

Either Michelle or I will be happy to answer questions about a driver’s score. The best way to improve a score at Mercer is to get clean DOT inspections. The quickest way to get a bad score is to have a preventable accident, get caught speeding or have a log violation. Our system is designed to be especially harsh on those three specific areas. Defective brakes, tires and cargo securement violations are close behind. At least half of Mercer drivers have figured this out and are running low scores (49 or less), zero scores or credit (negative) scores. The other half need to do it better. It can be done.

Remember, under CSA, carriers are given thresholds that they must stay below in seven categories. These are based upon DOT inspections and are updated monthly. If a carrier gets over a threshold, it gets more inspections the next month. More red Prepass lights. On our system, more inspections are great for the folks who know how to get clean ones and, frankly, they weed out those that don’t.

As I’ve said many times, CSA is not rocket science. Don’t go over a posted speed limit, keep the log book absolutely legal and current, secure cargo properly and keep brakes/tires within requirements. Always wear your seatbelt properly. Drivers that do these things don’t have problems. Drivers that don’t, or won’t, do these things have problems. When drivers don’t have problems, carriers don’t have problems. Everyone is happy and the world is a better place. Be safe.

  1. Dennis Hammer
    June 30, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Len Dunman of Safety: Is it possible to be able to see the list of infractions that mercer calculates the points system by in some form of detail? exsample speeding =??? log violations=??? & so on. I cant find anything that gives me a complete list of all the MERCER infractions/ convictions/warnings ect The only list i can find is the general list issued by the DOT SAFTEY BOARD Every single infraction has a point value with it, some less than others & some in differant catagories than others but its pretty basic & does’nt give examples or specific detail of what infractions fall under that specific DOT code infraction. For example the DOT code 392.2C just says failing to obay a traffic control device ie stop light /yeild sign/directional signs ect ect, The definition for a TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICE is as follows. “Traffic Control Devices that are used to Dierct & Assist Vehicle operators in the Guidance & Navigational tasks required to Traverse safely any Facility open to the Public” .. Now for an example if a driver is in a town on city streets & NOT on the interstate & there happens to be a scale/poe on the main hwy that the driver is unaware of & the driver is stopped on the local streets by a local law inforcement officer & the driver is issued a warning citation for ” LOCAL LAWS (GENERAL) FAIL TO STOP AT POE/SCALE” or if the driver just missed it all together while on the hwy but stops & walks back to scale/poe & is still just issued the same warning notice on the examination report givin to the driver & ITS NOT LISTED AS FAILING TO OBAY A TRAFFIC CONTOL DEVICE ,what catagory would this be under & what type of points would be issued for this type of violation.Would this violation fall under the catagory of failing to obay a traffic control device???? The driver may had a need to exit the road b4 the scale/poe ie truck stop/ hotel/shopping ect & instead of back tracking the way they came they just contiued on to the next available hwy entrance that also happened to be just past the poe/scale ethier voulantary or by mistake what is the point value if any & what catagory would this be accociated with, its not a log violation its not a accident or speeding its not equipment issues or any safety issues its not cargo issues or fatiuge issues & as far as i can tell its not really listed under any type of catagory of the seven catagories listed. After exstinsive research on the web , blogs, & our own mercer info board i have not been able to associate this type of violation to any form of the CSA 2010 violaion list. So again a detailed list of the CSA 2010 infraction codes with point values & definition’s of what exactly is included & whats not included in the infraction codes would be a big help. By the Definition of a Traffic Contol Device missing a scale/poe does not fall into the catagory of 392.2C you would have to have some form of directional sign notifiying vehicle operators in the guidance & navigational task reguired to traverse safely into the facility for that to be valid. A sign that says scales open or all commercial vehicles must clear port of entry or even all trucks must enter scales is not a form of Traffic Control Devices by its own definition, because it gives no true direction & guidence or navigational tasks reguired to complete a task safely therfore should not be considerd into the violation code 392.2C. Possibly under the code of other would be more accurate with the point value of 1 being its not a serious violation & can’t be contributed to the possability of an accident in any way in the future & thats what the whole CSA 2010 program is based apon, catching offenders of serious violations such as logs/drugs/speed/equipment safety/overall driver health & public safety. So plz help me out with this issue if you have the answer to this topic feel free to reply with an update or contact me directly i’ll be looking forward to talking with you about this thanks for youre time. HAMDE

  2. Len Dunman
    June 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Man, I’m going to need a couple of cups of coffee to wade into this one. There are several things here that I will touch on DH. If this doesn’t get most of it, stop in and see me the next time you’re in LKY.
    If you’ve been on the FMCSA website, you know that you can print out a list of all the violations and their point values. Just have a lot of paper in your printer when you do that, because there are more than 600 of them. Michelle and I use a Vigillo program which picks up the violations from the FMCSA run and scores them for us. We also refer to the printout if there is a question.

    Local law violations and overweight tickets do not score on CSA. We score them as zero. If there is a moving violation involved, we score the moving violation under our system. I sent you and everyone else a letter on December 15, 2010 explain how our system works and the differences between it and CSA. You also get a copy of it whenever your score changes and is updated.

    The issue with failure to obey a traffic control device is a constant problem. At Mercer, we have never counted scale tickets as moving violations, primarily for the reasons you mentioned. Under CSA, the states are all across the board on it. Some show it on an MVR as a moving violation, some don’t. Some write it up with a state code as a local law violation so it doesn’t have a CSA score. Unfortunately some states do classify it as 392.2C and stick you for 15 (5×3) points. A sign at a scale is a traffic control device, because traffic, ie YOU go in a specific direction because of its information.

    You are singing to the choir regarding the fairness of the relative CSA point values. Remember, these are what the FMCSA considers risk points of having a future accident. There are driving behaviors that the FMCSA wants to change, and the point values are assigned accordingly. The same with Mercer. There are things I don’t want you guys to do anymore, and we assign pretty stiff points in those cases so drivers understand that. Other carriers do the same. A number of carriers are cancelling contractors or are firing drivers for any DOT writeup. I’m not inclined to do that, but if the thesholds ever become the actual basis of Mercer’s DOT safety rating I could see it coming to that.

    Like it or not, I think it is important to understand that the FMCSA Regs have always been there, and drivers and motor carriers have always been required to comply with them. CSA: Compliance, Safety, Accountability, ensures that we do. I need another cup of coffee.

  3. Travis Barron
    July 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    For those of us who have been leased on recently if we are going to be charged with points for violations we aquired at other carriers should we not also be credited for clean inspections that were aquired at other carriers with in the past three years? All of this information is contained on our Pre employment screening print out with all of our csa information.

  4. Len Dunman
    July 7, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Great question, Travis. There is a lot of confusion about previous violations with other carriers. Let’s start with what I do count, which is moving violation CONVICTIONS on your MVR and preventable accidents you have had. I look back three years to the conviction date or to the date of the accident. As you know, we only allow one of those in the past three years (not one of EACH) to be eligible for lease. POV violations also count.

    We also review the FMCSA Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) on all applicants. While not a requirement under the FMCSA Regulations, it does give me a good indication of how an applicant handles DOT inspections. PSP’s do not show point totals, and they do not transfer from carrier to carrier, nor do I add your past ones to your score at Mercer. What I am looking for here is not to inherit bad habits.

    For example, if our fleet is having trouble with a certain threshold in CSA, such as Fatigued Driving (logs), I am not interested in a driver who has an inspection history showing me repeated log violations, regardless of a clean MVR and a nice truck. We don’t need someone like that burning us on CSA because they can’t get clean inspections. The same is true for repeated writeups for tires and brakes (Vehicle Maintenance) and speeding (Unsafe Driving). We must keep our scores below the CSA thresholds or we get more PrePass red lights and more inspections until we do. That is updated by FMCSA every month.

    As I have mentioned for more than a year, carriers simply cannot afford to keep folks who chronically get bad inspections. Our point system here is specifically designed to eliminate those folks and it is doing that. PSP is a valuable tool which prevents us replacing poor-scoring contractors with more of the same. Like it or not, CSA is here, it is real, and it is not going away anytime soon. It has raised the bar for everyone. The fact that you have leased to Mercer recently means that you understand that. I look pretty hard at what Recruiting gives me. You should be proud of yourself. Have a good day and be careful.

  5. Roger Osborn
    July 11, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    just a side question, what is a road survey?. . are you refering to what the State of Minnesota was doing, asking if you want to take a survey?

    • Len Dunman
      July 12, 2011 at 6:18 am

      Man, Roger, I wouldn’t ever pull a Minnesota on any of you guys! A road survey means you are being watched. This is done in a number of ways at Mercer:

      1) Manager and employee feedback. All Mercer managers report to me on the performance of any Mercer unit that they may encounter in their travels. I am most concerned about speed, following distance, seat belt usage and use of a hands-free cellular phone;

      2) Other carrier Safety personnel. Mercer is a member of TCA, CVSA, KMTA and IMTA and most of us in those organizations know each other fairly well. If a Safety Director of another company observes a Mercer unit speeding or tailgating, I usually get a call. I do the same for others;

      3) Insurance company personnel. Drivers can be road surveyed by our insurance company loss control people and sometimes those of other companies;

      4) Is My Driving Safe.com. This is my primary road survey company. It is made up of retired and off-duty police officers all over the country. My instructions are that they provide me with three shots of a driver’s speed and three shots of his or her following distance. I also want to know about seat belt use, passengers and hands free cellular use. Those reports get e-mailed to me.

      Drivers can earn up to five points of credit on our system for good road surveys and lose up to five points for bad ones. In addition, I investigate any complaint I receive on a driver from the motoring public.

      The bottom line is that I don’t want Mercer drivers speeding or tailgating at any time. I want our drivers to drive undistracted and to properly wear their seat belts at all times. If a driver is not doing these things, I want to know about it and deal with it before it is put on a DOT inspection sheet that burns us all on CSA. I don’t want any of you guys getting hurt and I don’t want anyone else hurt, either. Thanks for the question, Roger.

  6. Roger Osborn
    July 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for clarifying that Len, that was very informative.

  7. BigRon
    July 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    you know how Big Ron rolls in his large car…

    negative eleventybillion is a real number….

    • Len Dunman
      July 13, 2011 at 6:17 am

      In your boat, too, Big Ron.

      • BigRon
        July 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm

        well everytime your in my neck of the woods i offer….but your always to busy doing safety stuff…

        but you know how to contact me lol

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