An independent review team has concluded that the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program needs to be more reflective of the safety risks that are responsible for truck crashes. The review was ordered by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in early 2014 following the National Transportation Safety Board’s findings which concluded that “FMCSA failed to identify safety issues during audits of four carriers that later were involved in serious crashes.” The review team consisted of six members, and was lead by William Voss, deputy director of the Federal Aviation Administration, and also included members from the Department of Transportation, a state motor vehicle administration, and the private sector.
CSA scores are determined by using data from roadside safety inspections and accident reports. Carrier interventions are conducted as a result of poor CSA scores, but many are questioning whether the current scoring method measures the most useful events and actions. The review team discovered numerous “nearly due or overdue investigations” that are a result of the agency managing its workload on a “first-in, first-out” basis rather than a “risk-targeting” basis. It was discovered that the scores of around 27% of over 7,000 carriers flagged for compliance reviews actually got worse before the audits were conducted.
The good news is that FMCSA is in agreement that changes in the way CSA scores are calculated and interpreted need to be made. They announced in a June 29 Federal Register posting that they are making changes in the CSA program to more closely align intervention thresholds to crash risks. They have developed three levels of crash risk correlation:
High Correlation: unsafe driving, crash indicator, hours-of-service compliance
Medium Correlation: vehicle maintenance
Low Correlation: controlled substances/alcohol, hazmat compliance, and driver fitness
The changes will keep the current intervention threshold of 65% for the high risk categories (or BASICs) with the strongest correlation to crash risk and will reduce the medium risk threshold to 75% from the current 80%. These changes should allow FMCSA to better determine what motor carrier management actions lead to crashes and better identify safety risks that companies face.