Estimates that CSA 2010 safety warning letters will go out to over half of all carriers with Dept. of Transportation registration numbers when the program goes into full effect in December are “way too high,” according to an official from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The DOT has over half a million carriers in its records, but FMCSA analysis show that only about 50,000 have violations that would trigger a letter or other intervention step when the safety program goes into effect, according to Brian Price, the agency’s sr. transportation specialist managing the CSA’s field operations.
Warning letters are intended to notify a fleet that is “deficient,” that is its violations cross a threshold, in one of seven BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) measures. The letters urge fleets to log on to FMCSA’s safety records website to review their violations and correct any inaccurate information, as well as to devise a plan to address the problem. The letters require no formal response from fleets receiving them, but FMCSA will continue monitoring the fleet as it recalculates BASIC scores on a monthly basis, and has a number of new “interventions” it can employ to address fleet safety issues.
Under FMCSA’s current SafeStat program, the agency has only one enforcement option if it identifies a fleet with serious safety problems, but CSA 2010 gives the agency a range of responses. “In the past, it was one-size-fits-all to address issues,” Price told Fleet Owner. “No matter what the problem, our only choice was to do a full-blown onsite compliance review.”
Under CSA, the agency can now conduct reviews closely focused on specific problem areas, either remotely by telephone and mail, or onsite if it judges a fleet’s safety issues warrant more than a warning letter. In the most serious cases, it can still conduct an onsite comprehensive review.
“If, for example, a fleet has driver issues, it doesn’t make sense to rifle through maintenance records when we have a ton of roadside inspection reports that say their equipment is well maintained,” Price said.
The agency also has a new enforcement option in addition to fines and out-of-service orders with CSA. If a fleet’s safety violations don’t reach levels that would warrant fines, FMCSA can require it to develop a “cooperative safety plan” that spells out in writing how it will address the issue.
“But I want to stress one thing,” Price said. “Our enforcement policies haven’t become softer in any way [with CSA 2010]. If a fleet’s problems warrant fines or penalties, we will still go that route.”
On Dec. 5, CSA 2010 will turn on its new Safety Measurement System (SMS) and become trucking’s new Federal safety monitoring program, replacing SafeStat. It will also drop the 2010 designation and be known simply as CSA.
Price urged fleets that would like a preview of their BASIC scores to visit the agency website specifically created to let them review their DOT records.