WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced several changes to its Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) enforcement program, which are designed more quickly identify and address high-risk truck and bus companies with compliance concerns.
“Good data plays a key role in keeping our nation’s roads safe,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These improvements will enable us to better identify and address unsafe truck and bus companies before tragedies occur.”
Officials say the final CSA changes will provide FMCSA with more precise information when assessing a company’s over-the-road safety performance. The changes will be implemented in December and include:
• Changing the Cargo-Related BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) to the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC to better identify HM safety and compliance problems. FMCSA says its analysis shows that this change will identify more carriers with HM concerns (33.8% versus 29.1%).
• Changing the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the more specific Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately reflect violations in this area; and weighting HoS paper and electronic logbook violations equally.
• Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by including cargo/load securement violations from today’s Cargo-Related BASIC.
• Including intermodal equipment violations that should be found during drivers’ pre-trip inspections.
• Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations to ensure citations are consistent with current speedometer regulations.
• Ensuring all recorded violations accurately reflect the inspection type (i.e., only driver violations will be recorded under driver inspections).
“CSA is raising the bar for truck and bus safety. Our preliminary data shows that fatalities involving commercial vehicles dropped 4.7% last year compared to 2010,” said FMCSA Administrator Ferro. “Still, on average, nearly 4,000 people die in large truck and bus crashes each year. That is why we are implementing these important changes to make CSA even more effective.”
The American Trucking Associations praised the FMCSA’s changes, saying, “It is refreshing when a regulatory agency listens to the concerns of those most impacted by their actions, so we should take time to praise FMCSA for taking steps to address issues ATA has raised,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves. “In looking more closely at violation severity weights, for instance, FMCSA is taking some steps to make sure CSA achieves its stated goal of targeting carriers with increased crash risk.”
However, ATA urged the agency to continue to address serious shortcomings in the program and make badly needed improvements.
“These changes, while appreciated, point to the issue ATA has been urging FMCSA to address for some time: CSA scores are not necessarily indicative of elevated crash risk,” Graves said. “Several studies have told us this, and FMCSA’s changes indicate they believe it as well.
“ATA supports CSA’s original goal of reducing crashes by targeting unsafe carriers, but too often, the system highlights violations that bear little direct – or even indirect – relationship to crash risk. FMCSA must continue to hold true to CSA’s original goal and make changes to the program as necessary to do so.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said the FMCSA’s announced changes “shows that the agency is listening to what truckers have been saying…(h)owever, impatience from truckers should not be unexpected when a program has real-life consequences on professionals that know of no other way to do business but safely.”
OOIDA officials also pointed out that there is an inherent lack of fairness or accuracy in the system, and that the FMCSA has failed to account for whether a truck driver is actually at fault for the accidents reported.
“The onus is on FMCSA to show their program actually can identify carriers that really are likely to be involved in at-fault crashes as opposed to just running up numbers on the ‘alphabet soup’ of regulations they have on their books. The system operates from the premise that every trucker is the bad guy and this is a flawed approach for creating legitimate safety statistics or improving safety,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA.
“We are still reviewing the new changes and believe revising certain severity weightings are a step in the right direction, but we believe that FMCSA is still glossing over the lack of attribution of fault into the system.”
“FMCSA is boasting that millions of people are now checking the CSA Web site. It is clear the impact that this program is having on the trucking and shipping industry, and ultimately on people’s livelihoods. Therefore, it is imperative that FMCSA fix the flaws,” said Spencer.