FMCSA abandoned its ‘duty to regulate safety’ with CSA, attorney says

| November 06, 2013

Driver screening -- KY inspection station photoA transportation legal expert didn’t parse his words when talking the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program with fleet executives at the American Trucking Associations’ annual convention last month, especially when it comes to the agency’s ability to sidestep the rulemaking process and implementing “backdoor regulation.”

Rob Moseley, an attorney and head of the Transportation Industry Group at Smith Moore Leatherwood law firm in Greenville, S.C., told the audience “CSA is just the whim of FMCSA.”


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Overdrive Senior Editor Kevin Jones covered the speech and has a full write-up on OD sister site CCJ. 

Mosely, however, didn’t stop his CSA-bashing there, saying the CSA program is “an abandonment of FMCSA’s duty to regulate safety,” before rattling off a long list of ways that CSA does not work: 

Enforcement inconsistencies from state to state: As noted in extended Overdrive coverage on CSA and its data, states target different items, which puts drivers and small and large fleets on different playing fields than their peers. 

Reporting inconsistencies from state to state: Some states have trouble getting inspection data into the CSA system, again presenting large inconsistencies depending on where drivers and fleets operate.


CSA safety measurement system display changes now available for review

Among the changes being proposed are de-emphasizing BASIC percentile rankings and better describing so-called "absolute" carrier BASIC measures' relationship to scoring.

Issues with the DataQ system, the dispute system of CSA: Enforcers must review and approve their own work, which they don’t like.

Due process problems: Carriers can challenge and win citations in court, but the process of removing citations and their impact on CSA scores is difficult, not to mention the scores are public and can be seen by customers, shippers, brokers and the general populace.

Mysterious math and relative rankings: The math that determines CSA’s percentile scores is tricky by itself, but it’s made much worse by the fact that the scores are relative to other trucking companies and drivers, which doesn’t give a clear picture of actual safety risk. Also, as the lowest scorers either improve or are shut down, those that were in the middle now are at the bottom.

Measuring compliance instead of safety: Some of the CSA scoring categories (BASICs) deal solely with compliance, rather than safety. Things like form and manner on driver logs or flickering trailer lights don’t really reduce accident probability, Moseley said, but do ding CSA scores, which are supposed to be measures of a carrier’s crash risk.


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State inspection intensity ratings range from Maryland, where 32 inspections per lane-mile of National Highway System were conducted during CSA's first two year, to Idaho, ...

Unreasonably low threshold for targeting carriers: According to scores in the CSA system with “alerts,” about 50 percent of carriers are above the target threshold, Mosely said. Does that mean half of the country’s carriers are unsafe? 

Harm it does to trucking businesses: Companies that do business with trucking companies pay attention to CSA scores, and the system has meant the end for some small trucking companies, even though the system has so many flaws. 

Vulnerability of trucking companies to lawsuits: Anti-truck groups can use CSA scores to bring misguided lawsuits against trucking companies, Moseley said. 

Click here to read the full story.

Drop a comment below to tell us your biggest beef — or a specific story — about a potential CSA flaw. 

  • guest

    Yep the ignorant CSA paints “Driver School Mill” companies
    as very safe…when in fact the drivers have little or No experience and do Kill alot of people….when compared to OTHER slaughterhouse truckers of SIMILAR SIZE they seem quite adequate in “safety” when in fact they are quite dangerous and deadly. Voodo Math and describes the BOGUS NUMBERS….this is a MOCKERY of safety actually….entire program is a SHAM…everyone who earns a LIVING in Trucking KNOWS it is a useless crock of Crap and should be scrapped.

  • guest

    The two TOP Enforcers of this Crap CSA Tony Foxx and Anne Ferro have ZERO EXPERIENCE driving a truck or working in the industry…..How effective can the BOGUS program possibly be??? To Heavy with bureaucrats and politicians and office workers who KNOW little or nothing about trucking and have NO practical experience….actually rubber stamps and empty suits waiting for their next Appointment to a Higher Post??? The CSA is a disgusting Joke that is already costing REAL WORKING PEOPLE serious MONEY…with rediculous “rules” and “scores”..every trucker in the industry laughs and makes jokes about this ignorant Intrusion into our lives…….Scrap CSA TODAY.

  • getreal

    They need to just pay drivers by the hour, no more endless hours of waiting at shippers and recievers. Thats why we all run so hard. We all are false logging anyway, even on elogs
    . No matter what. Companies are requiring drivers to do it and the DOT lets them getaway with it and yet if caught its our fault, our ticket, please, when are the good folks in DC and the motoring public going to wake up. Its all about money. Companies are paying for the honor of screwing its drivers, Compliance what, when enforcement is turning its head.

  • Alan Spade

    Maybe the should try to regulate another industry in the same manner that is being done here. Lets say the Health Care Industry for example.

  • RunningBear

    The best trucking has to offer, in terms of safety, driver miles, compliance, trained drivers and an educated public can all be realized by simple going back to where the CDL situation fist began. 70/80 Total Hours Rule, 10 hour Driver Rule, 8 Hour Sleeper Birth Rule/ Off-Duty Not Driving Rule, 36 Hour restart after 70 Total Reached Rule. And, last but not least; the driver’s ability to stop the clock whenever he feels tired, so he can rest instead of having to keep pushing , due to the silly 14 Hour Rule. That rule in particular makes long-haul driving unsafe. even if you sleep 12 to 13 hours, you can still get sleepy after an hour or two of being up. “But”, because of the 14 our rule that doesn’t allow the driver the freedom to stop the clock once his day has stared, he can either keep pushing, regardless of how tired he may feel, or shut it down and get behind schedule. No one seems to have factored in, or did and don’t care about the fact that the time spent at a shipper and receiver, getting loaded and unloaded could run into some serious hours. Particularly grocery warehouses and steel mills. These places serves a lot of trucks on a daily basis. Shift changes, backlogs and equipment failures occur all to often. I’m as much for safety as the next man, and Heaven knows that in the 18 plus years I been driving, I’ve seen my share of incidents and accidents. But, I can honestly say, they all can not be laid a the feet of these hard working men and women that sacrifice time away from family and friends, on a week in and week out basis. I clocked over 2 million verifiable miles as a professional truck driver, and can honestly state that I haven’t had one chargeable accident. I started in 1992, so I’m very familiar with the 70/80, 10 on,8, 36 hour restart after 70, stop and restart the clock based on your level of restfulness. We don’t need babysitting, we need the DOT to crack down on these companies that keep putting unsafe-half trained drivers on the road. Every company should view and adapted the method used by Schneider National Carriers Inc. I was trained through them. The Skid Pad Program, that i went through in Green Bay, and other in-house safety courses that are incorporated into their training system is second to none. after you complete the portion of it, you are then teamed with their professional trainers for a few months,After that you must past a multi=phased test to enter the next level of training, which is teaming you with another nugget for a few months of OJT. Next comes your evaluation by the fleet-manger, safety officer and driver manager. It’s only successfully passing all of these training programs and modules, that i was given my own truck. What i like most about that point was, i was given the option to stay team, if I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of soloing, at that time, retraining with a training or soloing. How many other companies invest that kind of time, money, equipment and personnel in training drivers to be safe and professionals? If the FMCSA would focus on that aspect of the transportation industry, reset the rules back to the 1992 standards, standardize the trucking laws, so that every state is on the same page, crack down on as many mis-behaving 4-wheels, as they do on truckers, then we can’t help but have a cleaner, safer, more robust and happier motoring public. ,

  • James Deboard

    This program was the straw that broke the camel’s back in my decision to retire in 04/2012. There simply were to many regulation changes and rules that cut into a drivers means of making a decent living. $500-$600 a week and on the road for weeks at a time,just not worth it in the long run,and government thinks they know what we need out here on the road?????

  • frustrated in Minn

    WE all know its been way out of control for quite some time now. But yet they, FMCSA, FHSA, the govt. etc just keep dumping more and more stupid shit on us. When is it going to end? THere are so many rules and regulations is it really possible to even operate legally? THEY have no clue how all these rules and regs truly affect us and what they cost us. SAFETY has NOTHING to do with it. Neither does common sense.

  • guest

    it is beyond rediculous point in trucking anymore.
    Nobody could possibly take it seriously now.

  • MercenaryMan


  • MercenaryMan

    They wanted to standardize the rules Nationally, theyve added some good workintg ideas, the Medical card on the DL, and Nationwide registry so bad drivers cant jump state to state or have numerous licenses, But they failed when they started messing with the HOS, and restarts but the whole CSA points Thing has been a mess. Dump all that and stick with whats been proven, keep the working things and let drivers and companys work towards building a safer industry. I agree babysitting and attempting to micromanage every part of the industry has failed miserably

  • Michael

    It’s time to shut it down for a week then they might listen. I’m sick of all the crap. 35 years driving and now they want me to change ! It’s not going to happen . take your bullshit rules and stick them where the sun don’t shine. take your 14 hour rule and put it there also . I’m going to drive when my body and mind says I can and I’m going to sleep when my body say I have to . I don’t care what time that is I’m not a machine I’m human . Lets get that straight . So all you law makers that have never driven a truck before go play in someone else’s sand box and get the hell out of mine .

  • Ben

    SAFTY. We are all concerned about it. We don’t need micro-management, whitch has become much more than micro. FMCSA needs to go home. When the building is built the carpenders go home. FMCSA needs to know that there building is built. Let us do our job without aggressive pressure or intimidation and constant changing of regulations.

  • Guest

    Well Said!

  • William McKelvie

    He forgot inconsistencies within the states themselves. Doesn’t take a legal EXPERT to begin to understand CSA is a joke. But surely it is destroying the industry along with the other regulations being written based on studies and data from FIVE years ago.

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    Since there is no nationwide standard being followed by the states which still just do their own thing in regards to CMV inspections, how can the FMCSA use any of that data when assembling a valid CSA score for a carrier? It would be biased in the way the states do their inspections.

    Look at the crash and fatality statistics for any mega-carrier, which they can spread out over thousands of trucks, and then see how *one* at-fault accident effects a carrier with, say, ten trucks.

    The little guy is going to get creamed.

    The mega-carriers who leave dead bodies in their wake just operate as if they don’t have a care in the world.

  • Rob Taylor

    That “Nationwide registry so bad drivers cant jump state to state or have numerous licenses” is called CDLIS, at least it was. It was intended to compile data from all tickets anywhere in the country and was also supposed to work like the NRVC in that when a driver got a violation in one state it would be reported to CDLIS and thus the info was available to all states. Unfortunately, some states refused to join NRVC and even fewer seemed to have any idea what CDLIS was. When I initially applied for my CDL in 1996 they claimed I already had multiple CDLs with many different DOBs and SSNs. Any idiot would know that there would have to be hundreds of drivers named Robert Taylor around the country. I finally got the Ohio MVA to understand, but this was about the extent of the effectiveness of CDLIS. If you ever get any kind of ticket in Virginia, it isn’t filed under your license number but creates a new license number in which to file. Therefore, they are not obligated to report it to NRVC or CDLIS. That’s why the FMCSA needed a new system (CSA). It too has shortfalls like getting a ticket may or may not show up depending on various factors and an officer may enter incorrect data which will show up on the wrong driver’s record. My CSA shows I was inspected in Indiana and cited for inoperable headlights. I wasn’t anywhere near Indiana at the time. Getting it removed is nearly impossible.

  • MercenaryMan

    This is why I say refine and keep some of the good things they were trying to do before the BRAINS got together and sat down in there treehouse and said HEY, WE CAN ADD…..AND THIS…..AND THAT.and right about there it spun out of control, too many regulations, nobody with any idea how these apply in the real world and any experience to realize what they just enacted would create a dangerous environment for cars and trucks. Going back to the well meaning sense of the regulations now is almost as impossible. I heard on my local news today that the CONGRESS is reviewing the FMCSA and its laws and enforcement, Great the Do Nothings are now inspecting the DO TOO MANY THINGS…..

  • Rc12334

    News flash! The learning impaired “bureaucrats” making these foolish rules have no interest in safety or practical application of the rules, they only know that they have to make laws because that is what they do….until we wake up and start electing people that know something besides politics, this will only get worse…DOT training school doesn’t allow individual common sense to have any effect, only the letter of the law is what they know and is too bad that we are all reduced to the lowest level in the eyes of the law..

  • tj

    right on brother strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.