Overdrive Staff | January 04, 2011

Most carriers unranked in CSA

Only 12 percent of active motor carriers are ranked in any of the five safety categories within the new Safety Measurement System the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made public Dec. 12, according to an analysis by Overdrive’s sister publication, Commercial Carrier Journal.

The SMS, which replaced SafeStat, is a key component of FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, formerly known as Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010.

To search the newly available carrier data, visit the FMCSA site (http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms) and select “Advanced search.”

The agency published SMS data and metrics after a federal appeals court on Dec. 10 turned down an emergency request for a stay by three organizations alleging that CSA would have disastrous consequences for many trucking companies.

The majority of carriers, including owner-operators with their own operating authority, are unranked in CSA because FMCSA set minimum thresholds of inspections to be considered within the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Those floors vary, but generally carriers must have three to five inspections in the past 24 months to be ranked in a BASIC. FMCSA plans to use those rankings to target interventions, which start with warning letters and can escalate to full-blown compliance reviews.

CCJ’s analysis of data published at FMCSA’s Analysis & Information website shows only 92,184 of the 758,682 active motor carriers in the database are ranked in any of the five publicly available basics – Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances and Vehicle Maintenance. The Cargo-Related and Crash Indicator basics are, for now, withheld from the public due to agency concerns the data could be misleading.

Of the 92,184 carriers that are ranked in at least one BASIC, 52,967 have at least one alert, meaning they exceeded the threshold for intervention. The greatest number of alerts, 29,207, is in the Fatigued Driving BASIC, followed by the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC at 21,791. The Controlled Substances BASIC had the fewest alerts at 3,605.

On Nov. 29, three associations representing motor carriers asked the appeals court to block implementation of CSA or at least public release of certain CSA data until the agency completed a full rulemaking. The groups argued that due to fears over crash liability, shippers and brokers likely would stop using carriers that had alerts in the SMS.

FMCSA told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that fundamentally the SMS data to be made public is no different than SafeStat data that has been public for more than a decade.

Although FMCSA now can publish data from the new SMS, the litigation is not necessarily over. In a separate order, the appeals court established a briefing schedule for the lawsuit. Initial briefs will be due Feb. 7, and FMCSA’s response is due March 9.

– Avery Vise


TRUCKING COMPANIES added 1,400 new employees on a seasonally adjusted basis in November, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Department of Labor. Trucking jobs also grew on a year-over-over basis for the second month in row. Until October, trucking employment levels had not been higher than in the same month the previous year since June 2007. Since the beginning of March, trucking companies have added 17,300 jobs.

DIESEL PRICES will be higher in 2011 if U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration forecasts are accurate. The bureau projects diesel to average $3.14 a gallon for the 2010-2011 winter and $3.23 a gallon throughout 2011. As of early December, diesel averaged $2.98 in 2010, compared with $2.46 in 2009.

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