May 20, 2015

CSA SCORES HURT CARRIERS AND DRIVERS

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With the publicity surrounding the newest app for public data and rankings in the Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program, more carriers are being deemed unsafe when they’re actually very safe. This is often because carriers can receive a high score every time there is a crash, even if it’s not the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver’s fault. Statistics show that 80% of the crashes involving CMV’s are the fault of the other vehicle.

Because of this, the American Trucking Association (ATA) is urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to make changes to the CSA scoring system by removing crashes not caused by trucking companies or their drivers. The ATA feels that the goal of the CSA should be used to identify whether an accident is an indicator of future accidents. Being struck by another motorist does not make it more likely that the truck driver will hit others.

Although the FMCSA removes the crashes when assigning a company’s official safety rating after an audit, it still remains on the CSA data that is publicly available. The ATA wants the FMCSA to limit their auditing resources to identify and select the accidents that were at fault of the company or driver. However, the CSA safety rating is showing a percentage based on violations of people and their peer group, not the individual.

Another issue with the CSA scoring is liability lawsuits. The shipper doesn’t want to load a carrier with a high CSA score for fear of a liability lawsuit. In contracts, lawyers are asking carriers to put that they will compensate for the harm or loss of the load in the event of vicarious liability lawsuits.

The ATA isn’t the only one fighting for changes in CSA scoring. Recently Rep. Lou Barletta introduced legislation in opposition of the FMCSA’s publishing of flawed CSA data until the scoring system is fixed. He said the Safer Trucks and Buses Act is needed because truck companies are unfairly penalized for minor infractions under the FMCSA scoring system.

Barletta believes that a faulty safety score might as well be no safety score. He also believes that companies across the country are being unfairly represented by their safety scores, causing economically devastating impacts to bus and truck companies, many of which are small businesses. By changing the flawed scores, FMCSA can keep the roads safer than ever.

The publishing of flawed scores doesn’t benefit anyone. Whether it’s a parent looking for the safest bus for their kid’s school trip or a shipper looking for the safest truck to haul its goods, the FMCSA should provide more adequate safety information.

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