Dialogue on Crash Data Needed, Graves says to Feds

ARLINGTON, VA. — The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said yesterday that it has demonstrated how CSA (Compliance Safety Accountability) lacks enough data on the industry to give meaningful scores for the majority of carriers.

According to the ATA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has said it has sufficient violation data to assess 40% of active carriers in at least one category, but only enough to “assign a percentile rank or score” in at least one category to 12% of active carriers. The vast majority of these carriers, ATA highlighted, are only assigned a score in one category.

The FMCSA said the weakness is not problematic as “those carriers are involved in 83% of the crashes.”

Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO, said that statement is concerning “since FMCSA doesn’t really know how many commercial motor vehicle crashes are occurring or who is involved in them. Many crashes simply don’t get reported to the agency.”

The ATA pointed to research done by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute (UMTRI) that they say confirmed this limitation, and that “FMCSA’s self-assessment that most states do a “good” job of reporting crashes is questionable.”

The university’s analyses demonstrates that while some states to a good job of reporting crashes, others are rather poor at it. The university found that several states report less than 75 percent of truck crashes to FMCSA.

Meanwhile, FMCSA has dropped funding for the university’s crash reporting studies. That’s unfortunate, ATA said, as the unviserity’s crash reporting studies are accurate and reliable assessments of state crash reporting.

“Sole reliance on FMCSA’s estimates does little to provide an understanding of how the CSA system lacks important safety data on the vast majority of the industry,” Graves said. “This is critical because, as an analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute pointed out, perceived safety risk is dependent on the amount of data available on each carrier.

“The foundation of CSA is scores that reflect measures of comparative performance,” he said. “The fact that the government lacks data to score the vast majority of the industry in most categories calls into question not only the assumptions of those who don’t have enough data to get scored, but those who do.

“Honest and candid dialogue about data limitations, what currently works with CSA and what doesn’t will lead to both program improvements and highway safety gains,” Graves said.

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