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Former CVSA President Shares Insights on CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week

As the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual Operation Safe Driver Week approaches, it’s time to think driver safety. To provide some insight about what this event, and the CVSA is all about, plus what to expect on the road during the safety event, we caught up with Mark Savage, former CVSA president. Mark most recently served as a CVSA board member up until his retirement from a 26-year career with the Colorado State Patrol last year. Mark has since joined Intelligent Imaging Systems (IIS) and Drivewyze and serves as its Director of Connected Truck Solutions. 

What is the purpose of CVSA events like Operation Safe Driver Week? And why does the CVSA give so much notice about these events and what enforcement officers will be looking for? 

Operation Safe Driver Week and other safety events the CVSA coordinates are truly meant to be a reminder to fleets and drivers to be safe out on the roads. It’s why many safety events are announced in advance, with information on what law enforcement officers will be looking for. The CVSA really isn’t ‘out to get anyone’ or create headaches for fleets and truck and passenger vehicle drivers. The CVSA’s goal is to be as transparent as possible while ensuring safety for all who share the roads throughout North America.

Sometimes people will get the CVSA confused with law enforcement, who is responsible for issuing citations or conducting inspections during the events, but that isn’t CVSA’s role. The CVSA was created to establish uniformity in how vehicle inspections are conducted throughout North America so that drivers and fleets know what to expect when a vehicle is inspected no matter where a driver happens to be at the time. The CVSA is the ‘facilitator’ for Operation Safe Driver Week and works with local, state, provincial, territorial, and federal motor vehicle safety officials to conduct these events. The data collected helps government agencies and the CVSA benchmark where highway safety is at.

 

What can fleets do to prepare for Operation Safe Driver Week? What advice would you give to improve their overall safety?

The vast majority of fleets already take safety very seriously. And for most, this is just another week for them and its business as usual. In this day and age, it isn’t a smart business decision to not prioritize safety, as the consequences for a driver being involved in an incident is only increasing. Plus, with more technology available to help drivers stay safe, insurance providers continue to expect more from fleets in the form of documentation that shows the fleet is doing what it can to keep drivers and equipment safe. That said, there will always be a few fleets or drivers out there that don’t emphasize best safety practices as much as they probably should. 

For those that are interested in learning more about the CVSA, safety events, and what officers are looking for during inspections, and how they’re typically conducted, I highly recommend looking at becoming a CVSA member. It’s a great resource that can help fleets and drivers stay compliant. 

 

The CVSA selected speeding as this year’s main focus point. Why do you think the CVSA selected speeding, and what should drivers expect out on the road?

As the CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week announcement mentioned, last year there was an uptick in the number of traffic fatalities with an increase of 24% compared to the previous year despite the number of miles driven dropping by 13%. With less traffic on the road last year due to the pandemic and the fact vehicle speed plays a role in a large number of traffic incidents, it makes sense that speeding is the violation of emphasis in the upcoming event. 

During Operation Safe Driver Week, drivers should expect to see a larger patrol presence, especially in areas that are well-documented for having a high collision rate due to speeding. Every state has its high crash areas for speeding, and its likely enforcement officers will focus their attention in these areas, although passenger vehicle drivers are typically the worst offenders. In addition to vehicle speed, law enforcement will be on the lookout for other risky driving behavior like unsafe lane changes, aggressive driving, signs of impairment, and/or fatigue – all reasons a driver may be pulled over. 

While vehicle speed is under the microscope for this event, the reality is speeding has long been a problem on the road. Most people are guilty of doing it every now and then. But it’s serious, and it’s the leading cause for most collisions.     

 

If a driver is pulled over during Operation Safe Driver Week, what should they expect? What advice would you give to a driver to get through the inspection process as smoothly and quickly as possible?

The best piece of advice I can give is to stay calm and follow the officers’ instructions. Officers know being pulled over can create a sense of stress. At the end of the day, officers, like truck drivers, have an important job to do and they want you to be safe. The more you can assist law enforcement with what they need, the sooner you will be on your way. If you’re pulled over for speeding or for another traffic violation and show signs of impairment, fatigue, have falsified records, or other serious violations, that will be dealt with accordingly. 

 

From what you’ve seen during your career in law enforcement, what do you believe is the future in commercial vehicle safety?

The technology used in the trucking industry has advanced so much – like in most industries – since I entered law enforcement in the 90s. Early in my career, it was much more common to see collisions related to equipment failure. Today’s trucks are much more reliable and equipment failure makes up a small percentage of collisions now. As a result, the number of traffic fatalities has steadily declined since the 80s. Although in recent years, we’ve seen a bit of a plateau in those numbers as equipment failure isn’t much of a concern. Driver-related behavior is now responsible for roughly 87% of all fatalities on the road, so to continue that downward trend, technology designed to help correct and improve driver behavior will need to continue to evolve. And it is.

Dash cams, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), improved driver training methods, and other safety-related technologies are making a difference. Those products and services, plus future technologies that are introduced, are the key to creating safer roads for all.

Since retiring from law enforcement and joining Drivewyze and IIS, I’ve been involved in developing some really amazing technology that is designed to help improve driving behavior and assist fleets in managing safety programs. Last year Drivewyze launched Drivewyze Safety+, a proactive driver safety service that provides in-cab notifications to drivers of upcoming high-risk areas. The alerts are designed to help prevent accidents, safety incidents, and citations before they happen. One of the latest safety alert additions is actually on high citation areas for speeding. 

With Safety+, drivers that approach an area that is commonly known for a high rate of speed citations will receive a notification through their ELD or smartphone of the upcoming area, encouraging drivers to slow their speed if necessary. So far, Drivewyze has geo-fenced more than 2,800 zones throughout North America that provide drivers with speed and other safety alerts such as high rollover areas and upcoming low bridge notifications. 

To identify high citation for speeding zones, Drivewyze worked with state and provincial agencies to identify ‘problem areas’ for unsafe speeding behavior and areas where speed is a known factor in collisions. What’s more, with Safety+, fleets can proactively create their own custom zones for areas that they’ve identified as a problematic location for drivers with speeding. What’s unique about the custom zones feature is that fleets can create safety notifications for virtually any potential hazard or create important safety reminders for drivers wherever that location may be, in addition to other safety notifications Drivewyze provides. 

All told, the service is proving to be an effective way of reducing speeding events, as well as other driver-related incidents. When Drivewyze tested Safety+ with beta fleets prior to its launch, results showed there was a 27% reduction in speeding events by drivers going 5+ miles over the speed limit. This technology makes a difference – and this service, along with other safety technologies, is one step in reducing speeding events and other driver-related incidents. 

As we come up on Operation Safe Driver Week, remember to keep an eye on your speed and be mindful of drivers you share the road with. If you’d like to start a free trial of Safety+ Speed Alerts to prepare your fleet for Operation Safe Driver Week, visit our Drivewyze solution page for more information and to sign up for a custom demo.

How to Get Bypasses Regardless of Your Safety Scores

Getting the Green Light

Safety scores are essential to every carrier’s operations. They communicate to law enforcement a fleet’s overall commitment to safety by combining relevant data, from crash reports to inspection results. They are also screened by transponder-less weigh station bypass technologies to determine if a truck should be pulled in for inspection. This often creates a misunderstanding about how a fleet’s Inspection Selection System (ISS) and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores affect their eligibility for bypasses.

What's the Difference Between a CSA & ISS Score?

Before examining how safety scores impact a carrier’s ability to receive more weigh station bypasses, it’s critical to understand the distinction between CSA and ISS scores. Although similar, CSA and ISS scores have discreet differences that come into play during a truck’s route.

  • The CSA score is a collection of safety data aggregated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). This data includes roadside inspections, crash reports, investigation results, and registration details from the last 24 months. The CSA program is designed to hold carriers and drivers accountable by docking their score with each violation. Fleets can find their CSA scores on the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).
  • A fleet’s ISS score is an aggregation of its various CSA scores. Ranging from 1 to 99 (with a score of 100 being out of service), the FMCSA creates ISS scores to reflect a carrier’s overall safety profile. The lower the score, the better the safety rating. It is the ISS score that helps weigh station personnel determine if a truck requires an inspection.

To put these differences into perspective (side by side image comparison), think of CSA scores as the engine parts and the ISS score as the entire engine. When bypass technologies are screening vehicles for potential inspection, they’re looking at the ‘full engine.’

How Bypass Programs Use a Fleet's ISS Score

Bypass programs only screen for ISS scores and not CSA scores as it is commonly believed. An ISS score offers law enforcement a comprehensive overview of a fleet’s safety profile, and it serves as a more efficient measurement tool.

 

Advanced bypass programs use modern technologies to screen for a vehicle’s ISS score, plus these other key inspection criteria:

  • License and vehicle identification (VIN) number, which allows law enforcement agents to screen against registration, permits, and taxes.
  • The weight of the vehicle, using embedded Weigh in Motion (WIM) scales to record the weight wirelessly.
  • The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sticker.
  • Hazmat placards, if applicable to the truck’s load.
  • In some states, the carrier’s International Registration Plan (IRP) and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).

 

Before the truck reaches the station, the bypass program transmits for the vehicle’s US Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, which is used to locate the fleet’s ISS score in the federal system. The software then employs imaging, sensor information, and authoritative data sources to give law enforcement a detailed snapshot of that vehicle and its carrier. From there, the truck is either asked to pull into the scale house or granted a bypass.

 

Bypass services that offer 100% software-based technology, like Drivewyze PreClear®, allow drivers to receive bypasses directly on their in-cab ELD or mobile devices. This means that ISS scores and other inspection credentials can be read automatically at highway speeds, without having to slow down or switch lanes to drive under a transponder reader.

 

A great ISS score will typically result in more bypasses. Bypass services, like Drivewyze PreClear®, use the ISS score to determine the likelihood of performing an inspection. For instance, a truck with an outstanding score could receive bypasses up to 98% of the time.

Improving ISS & CSA Scores

It is important to understand that a poor ISS score does not mean that a fleet will never get bypasses. It may receive less, but once safety scores are improved, it will result in more bypasses.

 

There are several ways fleets can improve their scores for a more efficient operation. The most effective way for carriers to enhance their safety scores is to use weigh station inspections and highly reviewed bypass services to their advantage.

 

  1. Ensure inspections are always excellent. Inspections impact both ISS and CSA scores, and clear inspections can improve them.
  2. Encourage drivers to volunteer for inspections wherever schedules permit to have a record of violation-free results.
  3. Get first-hand knowledge of the inspection criteria by speaking with law enforcement officers. Retired officer Doug Hatch says this is one of the best ways to learn how to improve a carrier’s safety scores.
  4. Take steps to receive more bypasses by streamlining safety procedures and implementing a bypass service. Bypasses proves the fleet’s commitment to safety and therefore improves safety scores.
  5. Invest in a bypass service that provides GPS-based business intelligence reporting to understand what criteria are reported during vehicle inspections. This will highlight the specific areas where safety measures can be improved across the fleet to upgrade safety scores and provide more bypass opportunities.

Enhance Safety Scores with a Bypass Service

There are many measures carriers can take to understand their safety scores and improve them. By investing in the bypass service with the broadest possible network, such as Drivewyze PreClear®, fleets can automatically increase the opportunity for a bypass, especially for carriers that serve multiple jurisdictions. The bypass service can then be used to analyze safety violations that are contributing to the fleet’s safety profile. As scores improve, it generates a snowball effect: fewer inspections, less time wasted, and happier, more efficient drivers.

Drivewyze driver screen devices

Interested to see how your fleet can get more bypass green lights on their routes? Contact us to start a free trial and find out how you can improve your fleet’s ISS score with Drivewyze PreClear®.

Drivewyze driver application of PreClear weigh station bypass - large

The Most Common Misconceptions About Weigh Station Bypass Programs

Electronic weigh station bypass technologies have been evolving steadily over the past few decades. Since Drivewyze’s transponder-less bypass technology debuted in the US in 2012, bypass programs have developed even further to make truck inspections easier for everyone involved. Today, bypass services help safe vehicles avoid unnecessary inspections through mobile integration and screening techniques that can weigh the truck as it passes inspection stations at full speed.

Although bypass software and solutions are commonplace in the trucking industry, there are still industry misconceptions about how they work. These concerns are largely associated with efficiency, safety, and privacy, even though in reality, bypass apps are designed to enhance driver safety and fleet efficiency as well as provide opportunities to improve a carrier’s Inspection Selection System (ISS) score and reward its fleet with more bypasses.

Misconception #1: Bypass Programs Will Result in More Inspections

A common fear for fleet managers is that bypass programs will cause more inspections, resulting in wasted time, more paperwork, and delayed deliveries. In reality, bypass services are used by law enforcement to reward carriers with high safety ratings.

When a vehicle is screened using bypass technology, law enforcement receives a detailed snapshot of the vehicle’s information.

When a vehicle is screened using bypass technology, law enforcement receives a detailed snapshot of the vehicle’s information.

Drivewyze comparison chart of document types

The screening criteria used is at the discretion of the enforcement agency, but these are some of the common credentials:

  • The carrier’s ISS score, which reflects the overall safety profile of the fleet.
  • The license and vehicle identification number (VIN), which allows law enforcement agents to screen against registration, permits, and taxes.
  • The weight of the vehicle.

References to Inspection Selection System (ISS) scores applied to US carriers only. Canadian carriers are subject to alternate screening and scoring systems.

By combining these credentials into one system, bypass programs provide officers with a more efficient screening process. They can focus their efforts on unsafe vehicles while allowing safer vehicles to stay on the mainline and deliver their load faster.

However, this does not mean safe carriers do not need to be inspected. Law enforcement sets a “random pull-in factor” at each inspection station so that a certain percentage of fleets, regardless of ISS score or bypass system integration, are subject to being inspected. This is an important safety precaution that ensures all fleets are fairly screened.

Bypass services, like Drivewyze PreClear®, use ISS scores set by law enforcement to predict the likelihood of requiring an inspection. The lower the score, the less likely the truck will be asked to pull in. This prediction and the random pull-in factor help improve safety on the road while decreasing inspections for fleets with outstanding safety scores.

Misconception #2: Bypass Programs Use CSA Scores for Screening

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores are calculated using roadside inspection and crash report data from the previous 24 months. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) then combines these various CSA scores to determine a single-digit ISS score for a fleet, which offers a more comprehensive view of a fleet’s overall safety profile. For this reason, bypass systems only screen for a fleet’s ISS score, not its collection of different CSA scores over the past two years.

In fact, bypass services provide an opportunity for fleets to improve their ISS score. Every bypass and clear inspection show the carrier’s commitment to safety. Over time, this lowers the ISS score, enhances the safety profile, and increases each truck’s likelihood of bypassing a weigh station.

Some bypass systems, like Drivewyze PreClear®, also provide real-time data reporting to identify the most common criteria inspected at weigh stations. This gives fleet managers an in-depth look at which safety areas need the most attention. They can restructure their safety strategy to target those areas and improve their ISS score moving forward.

Misconception #3: Bypass Programs are Used to Track Drivers

Mobile bypass technology makes a driver’s job safer and easier.

It’s the mobile nature of these kinds of technologies however, that raises concerns about driver privacy. Bypass systems pre-screen for information that will only alert law enforcement of any safety violations. It’s important to note that during a pre-screening, officers will never check a driver’s:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) log
  • Past medical records
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL)

Bypass software and applications use secure mobile technology to ensure this personal information is not provided to law enforcement. Additionally, the bypass system will only record the date and time that a truck bypasses or is asked to pull into a weigh station and does not track the vehicle before or after the station.

Drivewyze driver application of PreClear weigh station bypass - small

How information is processed inside the station is also strictly regulated:

  • Any vehicle data collected at the station does not leave the station.
  • Driver data is never collected or shared across locations or officers.
  • Law enforcement personnel can only see weigh stations within their jurisdiction visited by the driver, but not in neighboring jurisdictions.
  • Officers cannot use this data to issue a citation. For example, they cannot use location data to give a driver a speeding ticket.

Not only do bypass programs keep drivers’ data private, but they also make driving safer. Services like Drivewyze PreClear® offer a hands-free system that can be used on the driver’s mobile device. It sends heads-up notifications to warn drivers about upcoming inspection stations, along with safety alerts for high-risk areas on the road. Plus, since the system doesn’t require a transponder, drivers can avoid dangerous lane changes or slowing down to get a bypass green light.

Test the Benefits of a Bypass Program with a Free Trial

Bypass technology is designed to make trucking easier—for drivers, fleet managers, and law enforcement. But with any innovation, there are going to be questions and concerns.

By staying educated on bypass programs and how they integrate with weigh stations, carriers can improve cost and operational efficiency, improve safety scores, and boost driver safety and retention.

Curious whether a weigh station bypass system can work for your fleet? Contact us to start a free trial of North America’s largest weigh station bypass service, Drivewyze PreClear®.