ATA demands to see study used to develop CSA scoring system

The American Trucking Assns. has called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to release the study of the links between safety violations and crash risk which the agency used to develop its methodology for assigning carriers’ scores in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.

FMCSA cited the study, titled “2007 Violation Severity Assessment Study Final Report,” as a component in the development of the severity weights in CSA, which are assigned to all violations on a scale of 1-10 based on their relationship to crash occurrence and consequences.

ATA said it has requested the study in writing three times since May 2010.  The agency has refused not only ATA’s requests, but also a request from its own Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), a group of stakeholders appointed by FMCSA’s administrator to advise the agency on regulatory and program matters, ATA charged.

The MCSAC ultimately concluded there is a “continuing need for further data collection to accurately establish crash causation relationships to justify ultimate weighting scores.” Because the group was not provided with such data, its recommendations with respect to appropriate violation severity weights largely reflected “guesswork” on the relationship between particular violations and crashes, according to MCSAC’s final report.

An evaluation of CSA conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, released by FMCSA in 2011, described the assignment of severity weights as “arbitrary” and went on to point out that “Whether the weights used in the calculation of the BASICs scores are appropriate is not known....”

“As a regulated industry, trucking has a right and a need to know how the system we operate under was crafted,” said Bill Graves, ATA president & CEO. “FMCSA has an obligation to release this study so that the industry, and other stakeholders, may evaluate CSA and offer substantive proposals to improve it.”

 “FMCSA’s reluctance to release this document, as well as other important CSA-related documents, sends the wrong message,” Graves added, referring to ATA’s recent request for the agency to release its study of crash accountability. “This pattern of failing to disclose critical background information, despite numerous requests, contradicts the agency’s claims of openness and transparency.”

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