Altered CSA Safety Measurement System back in the public eye

| January 13, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has returned an altered CSA Safety Measurement System to public view. The recent changes follow the system’s wholesale removal from publication following passage of the FAST Act highway bill in early December. The FAST Act also requires a substantive review and reworking of the program before SMS scores for property carriers can be allowed to be made public again.

Following the most-recent, Tuesday update to SMS information, FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne says that, with the exception of a “couple more IT issues to work through, … all the most substantive changes” to the interim public display have been made.

That means carrier BASIC category scores, the primary percentile rankings that proved to be so problematic for many, are no longer shown in the public view.

One carrier's measure in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC shown changing over time in the CSA SMS -- such measures are no longer available within individual BASIC categories in the SMS.

One carrier’s measure in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC shown changing over time in the CSA SMS — such measures are no longer available within individual BASIC categories in the SMS.

Also no longer available are the individual BASIC measures that underpinned the scores. In the past, some agency representatives had dubbed those numbers more “absolute measurements” than the comparative percentiles, and language in the highway bill allowing for the publication of absolute measures led some to speculate those numbers may remain public.

As it stands today, however, the view in each individual BASIC but the Crash Indicator shows a graph of the most recent year’s inspection history, as illustrated.

The only graphical information available in most BASICs today is a simple history of the carrier's inspection activity.

The only graphical information available in most BASICs today is a simple history of the carrier’s inspection activity.

Beneath the graph, lists of violations and inspections associated with each BASIC, where applicable, are also available with another listing of serious violations uncovered during investigations.

In the Crash Indicator BASIC, the month-to-month number of carrier-involved crashes is graphed, and lists of each individual crash, irrespective of fault, remain.

Evaluative SMS information about passenger carriers remains available to the public, and freight carriers will still be able to access their own CSA SMS percentiles and other now-withheld information by logging into the system with their DOT-issued PIN.

UPDATE 1/14/2016, 9 a.m. CST: We’ve heard from a few motor carriers since this story went to press that logging into the system was problematic both via the DOT site and the Compass portal. 

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne noted this morning that staff there was “still checking on this, but so far, nothing seems to be out of the norm.”   

Staff advised “those having difficulty,” DeBruyne said, could be have a PIN-related issue. “Carriers having login issues should call the CSA help line at 877-254-5365.  My team further reports that they have received a number of calls recently from carriers who are using their PINs for the first time and entering the number incorrectly. Advise carriers to call the CSA help line, and the staff will be happy to troubleshoot the problem.”

Whether companies doing business with motor carriers would require disclosure of SMS scores as a condition of that business remains an open question, discussed in brief in this story:

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Have you been asked for your CSA scores by a broker, shipper or insurance company since their public removal? If you're reading on a smartphone, tap the image to call and leave us a message to weigh in. We'll round up responses in a special mailbag podcast. Alternately, drop a comment below. If you're on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Make sure to tell us your name and state of residence.

Have you been asked for your CSA scores by a broker, shipper or insurance company since their public removal? If you’re reading on a smartphone, tap the image to call and leave us a message to weigh in. We’ll round up responses in a special mailbag podcast. Alternately, drop a comment below. If you’re on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Make sure to tell us your name and state of residence.

With announcement of the SMS update, FMCSA reminded carriers to update their MCS-150 forms with current vehicle-miles-traveled and power-unit estimates to ensure accurate data in the system.

Carriers are required to update the information every two years, at minimum.

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