The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is pushing the national rollout of its new Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program – formerly known as the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) program – back a week to Dec. 12 as the agency continues to fine-tune the program as well as deal with a motion filed in U.S. District Court by several trucking groups to block public dissemination of carrier CSA safety scores.
The National Assn. of Small Trucking Companies, the Expedite Alliance of North America, and the Air & Expedited Carriers Assn. are seeking an “emergency stay” of CSA’s national implementation.
“The implementation of the rule embodied in CSA and, in particular, the publication of BASIC [behavior analysis and safety improvement category] ratings, will result in irreparable competitive and economic harm to motor carriers and freight brokers,” the groups said in their lawsuit filed Nov. 29. “[But] a delay will cause no harm to the agency or the public.”
Other trucking groups, however – most notably the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) – are not joining in the suit as they believe greater gains can and have been made by working with FMCSA to ensure BASIC scores are fair and accurate.
In fact, FMCSA said last month it plans to withhold cargo-related behavior BASIC scores from public view on the agency’s website until it can craft a more accurate methodology for reporting them.
“Starting in December, these BASIC scores are going to be used by shippers, brokers, insurance carriers, and potentially juries to make judgments about the ‘safety fitness’ of carriers,” Rob Abbott, ATA’s vp-safety policy, told FleetOwner at the time.
“The problem was that certain violations that counted within the cargo BASIC were not safety-related, with others being weighted in ways that didn’t allow for relative comparison across the spectrum of trucking carriers,” Abbott said. “We wanted to make sure that the scores in this category accurately reflected carrier safety performance.”
Safety groups, however, are concerned about long-term delays for CSA as they believe this new safety initiative by FMCSA holds much promise for weeding out more of the “bad apples” within the trucking industry. They point out that government and law enforcement agencies at the state and local levels are fiscally challenged to find resources for highway safety activities.
“Using performance data to reveal which motor carriers and drivers are not complying with safety rules allows inspectors and other law enforcement personnel to more effectively focus on and remove the most unsafe drivers, vehicles and carriers from the nation’s roadways, saving countless lives in the process,” noted Stephen Keppler, executive director for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), in a statement.
“By implementing CSA, federal and state inspectors and investigators are improving on their ability to proactively address the issues that are most likely to contribute to crashes and cause injuries and deaths related to large truck and bus crashes,” he said. “The pilot [CSA] program experience in nine states has shown that we can effectively ‘reach’ more carriers, which is a good thing and is an improvement over what has been the case in the past.”