CSA testimony focuses on safety evaluations

Jill Dunn | June 24, 2010

Trucking representatives told U.S. House members the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 is good in some regards, but they have concerns about how its data is used in safety evaluations.

On June 23, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit members heard testimony on implementing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s agency’s program.

The agency’s rollout of CSA 2010 is expected to be complete before next year. CSA will replace the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Status Measurement System, or SafeStat, with the Carrier Safety Measurement System, which is part of the agency’s CSA initiative.

Agency Administrator Anne Ferro said the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is independently evaluating test results, which it will report in December.

The subcommittee memo issued to House members stated the FMCSA has indicated it is studying the feasibility of an American Trucking Associations recommendation to assess state police records to determine crash accountability, or which party is at fault, before including the crash in SMS. It is considering changing this aspect of the system before a nationwide rollout.

The agency has argued its data analysis shows carriers involved in numerous crashes are more likely to be involved in future crashes, irrespective of fault.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said FMCSA’s enforcement priorities before the program have focused primarily on targeting truck drivers at roadside inspections. “Under CSA 2010, the agency is shifting its main focus from the driver to other stakeholders in the industry and recognizing that drivers often are not the
principal decision makers in the shipment of goods,” Spencer said.

The ATA is concerned how CSA measures carrier exposure for evaluating each carrier’s relative performance in several categories, said Keith Klein, Transport America CEO and executive vice president, who spoke on behalf of the association. Under CSA current methodology, the FMCSA uses a count of carrier trucks to measure risk exposure rather than the total number of miles these vehicles traveled.

James Oberstar, D-Minn., Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, said the agency lacked independent or reliable data on vehicle miles traveled. Ferro said VMT data is provided through federal transportation agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration.

The National Driver Register should be incorporated in measuring safety as well, he added.
The NDR contains names and related identification of driver licenses that have been cancelled, denied, revoked, or suspended or if someone have been convicted of certain serious traffic violations.
 Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and others at the hearing expressed concern over state resources being able to handle the implementation.

The Oregon Democrat also said the Mexican government lacked verifiable safety data and that bribery of the country’s enforcement officials occurred when a driver or a carrier is charged with violations.

Stephen Keppler, interim executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said Mexico had increased enforcement within its borders and also provided more information to the CVSA than it has in the past.