FMCSA CSA and Safety Fitness Determination Changes March 2017
What makes a motor carrier safe? It’s March 2017, and members of the trucking industry are still trying to reach an agreement with regulators.
First, some background: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a US Department of Transportation agency that works to reduce injuries and deaths caused by large commercial vehicles. The FMCSA uses a rating system called the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program to determine carrier safety. (Remember: the FMCSA is the agency; the CSA is the safety program.)
Industry stakeholders have criticized the CSA, pointing to studies that essentially demonstrate that the better a carrier’s rating, the worse its actual safety performance.
In response, the FMCSA announced a little over a year ago that it would revise its rating methodologies. The improved CSA would take into account
- “the carrier’s on-road safety performance in relation to five of the seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) tracked by the agency’s CSA program;
- an investigation; or
- a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.”
A month later, the FMCSA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that aims to create yet another new rating system based on CSA scores. Now, trucking industry advocates are asking Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to rescind this notice until the CSA system gets finalized. In other words, the industry coalition wants the FMCSA to figure out what it’s looking for before regulators start taking action.
Perhaps I should let the coalition, which includes more than 60 fleets and trucking associations, speak for itself. The letter calls the rulemaking “ill-advised and harmful,” and argues:
“As representatives of the commercial motor vehicle operator industry representing property and passenger carriers, we do not believe it makes sense to build a new safety fitness determination system upon a flawed system which is currently undergoing Congressionally mandated review and reform and is likely to change. While we support the goal of an easily understandable, rational safety fitness determination system, this proposal is built on a flawed foundation.”
You can read the letter in full here [PDF].
What are your thoughts about the FMCSA’s proposed rulemaking? We would love to hear what you think about carrier safety standards and how the industry and and lawmakers can work together to reduce injuries and deaths on the road. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter or LinkedIn, or send us an email.