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FMCSA Makes Changes To CSA

Aaron Huff August 28, 2012

Following a four-month preview of proposed changes to the Compliance Safety Accountability enforcement program, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Friday, Aug. 24, announced which ones will go into effect in December. In general, the changes are intended to enable the agency to 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 U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These improvements will enable us to better identify and address unsafe truck and bus companies before tragedies occur.”

Since the program’s inception in late 2010, CSA has had a measurable effect on motor carrier compliance and safety. Total violations have gone down by eight percent and driver violations are down 10 percent, the most dramatic decreases in a decade, said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.

FMCSA said the final CSA changes will provide more precise information when assessing a company’s over-the-road safety performance. The changes 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. The agency’s analysis shows that this change will identify more carriers with HM concerns (33.8 percent versus 29.1 percent). Carriers and law enforcement can view this new BASIC in December. FMCSA will conduct further monitoring before it is made public.
  • 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.
  • Clarifying definition of passenger carrier companies by:
  1. Adding carriers that operate for-hire 9-15 passenger vehicles and 16-plus passenger vehicles;
  2. Removing carriers operating only 1-8 passenger vehicles and private carriers operating 1-15 passenger vehicles such as limousines, vans and taxis.
  • 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’ pretrip inspections.
  • Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations to ensure citations are consistent with current speedometer regulations. This change will be retroactive to January 2011.
  • Modifying the Safety Management System (SMS) to more accurately display crash information that is available to the public.  The agency will begin using more descriptive terms for the data it has collected on motor carrier violations for each BASIC. For instance, the website will no longer use the term like “inconclusive,” but rather, “less than 5 violations,” or “zero violations,” etc. The Crash BASIC will continue to stay visible to motor carriers and law enforcement only.

  • Ensuring all recorded violations accurately reflect the inspection type; only driver violations will be recorded under driver inspections.

“CSA is raising the bar for truck and bus safety,” Ferro said. “Our preliminary data shows that fatalities involving commercial vehicles dropped 4.7 percent last year compared to 2010. 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.”

FMCSA provided a four-month preview period to ensure the public had multiple opportunities to review and comment on the proposed changes to CSA’s online Safety Measurement System. Overall, 14,000 carriers and 1,700 law enforcement personnel participated in the public preview. The Federal Register Notice issued on Friday, Aug. 24 responds to the comments received as of July 30 regarding the preview of the updates to the system.

The American Trucking Associations praised FMCSA for responding to several concerns the industry had raised. “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 Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “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 what it sees as serious shortcomings in the program and to make additional 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.”

FMCSA said the CSA enhancements are part of a continuous work to strengthen its safety enforcement tools. To support this effort and provide ongoing feedback, FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee will consider establishing a CSA subcommittee at its next meeting on Aug. 27-29.

For complete details on the new CSA improvements, go to http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

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