CSA didn’t make SafeStat’s problems go away

I bet that everyone who reads this column can remember when the topic of CSA was first broached, when it was referred to as CSA 2010 and when information was plentiful on this newfangled approach to measuring a carrier’s safety performance. However, it still does not surprise me that upon review of TCA’s Annual Safety and Security Division meeting in May, the most widely attended educational sessions were those that focused on CSA and how to deal with the issues that it bestows upon carriers and their safety personnel.

When we originally planned the educational content of this meeting, the division leadership questioned the viability of having sessions that still involved the issue of CSA. We wondered whether it was still relevant and whether the information was still something that our carrier members were interested in. These questions have been asked time and again and answered as recently as in May in Indianapolis when many conversations focused on this issue.

There were two educational sessions at the meeting, one based on Data Qs and another on roadside inspections. These were presented in standing-room-only meeting rooms to interested attendees who then continued the conversation in the hallways as well as throughout the overall meeting. I suspect that the very reason the discussions continued could be the lack of leadership and available information that exists on the subject of CSA. In fact, everyone seems to have an opinion on CSA and how to deal with it; in reality, the industry is looking for answers from those who oversee it.

We as an industry continue to wait for information that has yet to come. While I cannot say that the industry has embraced all that is CSA, it is willing to work with CSA and even more so, understand the problems that come with it. But problems still persist with the program, and that leaves the industry in a fog as it waits for FMCSA to address them. If this column were written five years ago and I wrote of problems like data quality issues, geographical biases and crash accountability, one could assume I was writing about SafeStat, yet these issues and many more also pertain to CSA.

The agency developed the CSA program without ever really fixing the problems it had with SafeStat—and these problems continue to this day. Since CSA has single-handedly changed the way every carrier has performed its daily safety functions, it should stand to reason that the ones being measured should expect solutions to issues that have plagued the safety measuring system since SafeStat was around. The solutions never came, and they continue to be problematic to a new measurement system that does not truly do what it intends to do.

Don’t get me wrong. In the interest of planning safety conferences, CSA and the lack of available solutions is a veritable gold mine when it comes to finding topics that interest TCA members. Judging from the aforementioned crowds in the meeting room, I can at least thank the agency for that. However, I think the time has come to actually have the agency step up and address the concerns that the industry keeps talking about and provide solutions that allow us to move onto newer initiatives that continue to keep our carriers safer on our highways.


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