Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CSA 2010: New Efforts to Make the Trucking Industry Safer for America's Highways

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ambitious and absolutely necessary initiative to “ultimately reduce commercial motor vehicle (CMV)-related crashes, injuries and fatalities” is halfway through its premier year. Nine states are already trying out the new program, called CSA 2010, with additional states joining in this month.

Elimination of SafeStat System
By the end of the year, the old SafeStat carrier safety record system will be replaced by the new Safety Measurement System (CSMS), which will be available to the public this fall/winter.

Uniform Safety System
CSA 2010 aims to bring efficiency to a regulatory system that has struggled to incorporate different methods from 50 states. With the plan, each state will implement the same measurements for trucking company and driver history. This uniformity will make it easier for the FMCSA to identify dangerous operators and drivers.

Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)
Under the new Safety Management System (SMS), drivers and carriers will be scored in seven areas:
  1. unsafe driving FMCSR Parts 392 and 397
  2. fatigued driving FMCSR Parts 392 and 395
  3. driver fitness FMCSR Parts 383 and 391
  4. controlled substances/alcohol FMCSR Parts 382 and 392
  5. vehicle maintenance FMCSR Parts 393 and 396
  6. cargo-related FMCSR Parts 392, 393, 397 and HM Violations
  7. crash indicator

According to the CSA 2010 website, a carrier’s measurement for each BASIC depends on:

  • The number of adverse safety events (violations related to that BASIC or crashes).
  • The severity of violations or crashes.
  • When the adverse safety events occurred (more recent events are weighted more heavily).

After a measurement is determined, the carrier is then placed in a peer group (e.g., other carriers with similar numbers of inspections). Percentiles from 0 to 100 are then determined by comparing the BASIC measurements of the carrier to the measurements of other carriers in the peer group. 100 indicates the worst

Trucking Industry Reaction
The American Trucking Association has concerns
over the new system, which is being carefully tweaked as it is rolled out. The ATA’s primary concerns are with collision causation documentation, replacing reliance on number of power units with vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for carrier exposure measurements, and use of actual citations for moving violations instead of “warnings.” At first glance, the ATA appears to be protecting industry earnings more than the public. It will be interesting to see if and how the FMCSA incorporates its suggestions.

Need for Focus on Safety
As a consumer advocate, I hope all the parties involved remain focused on a goal of safety and not profits. If we keep looking at dollars made and not at damages left in the wake of bad trucking companies, then we can forget safe highways.

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