Overdrive staff | December 01, 2009

Safety crackdown coming

CSA 2010 will rate drivers, carriers monthly

The new program will accumulate comprehensive records from inspections and other sources.

An ambitious data program being launched next year will intensify dramatically how drivers and carriers are evaluated for safety and determined to be unfit to operate.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 will introduce a driver rating system and will replace SafeStat, which has rated carriers. Data collected from roadside inspections, accidents and other agency and law enforcement encounters will be used.

Already being tested in six states, the program is scheduled to roll out in most other states beginning in July. The driver measurement system is not expected to be enforced as quickly as that for carriers, say American Trucking Associations officials.

The system will determine carriers’ safety fitness based on two years’ worth of data. The driver rating will use three years’ of information. Recent encounters will be weighted more heavily.

Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says CSA will use “all violations on inspection reports, even if there is no citation issued.” CSA will allow safety investigators to see a driver’s complete safety record.

The current SafeStat program assesses only carriers, including independent owner-operators, and uses only roadside inspection information on out-of-service and moving violations. CSA will assess carriers and drivers using 3,589 safety-based roadside inspection violations, such as equipment and log book violations, in seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs:

• Unsafe driving (on-road incidents)

• Fatigued driving (hours of service violations)

• Driver fitness (violations related to CDL certifications)

• Controlled substances/alcohol

• Vehicle maintenance (equipment violations)

• Cargo related (improper securement and other violations)

• Crash indicator (accident history)

Three levels of intervention are specified by FMCSA. A Notice of Violation is an informal notice requesting action by the carrier or driver. A Notice of Claim places more strict requirement on the carrier or driver. The most severe is an out-of-service order.

“Only after the intervention, and if the driver continues to demonstrate unsafe or risky behavior, then could the driver be declared unfit by the DOT and removed from the road,” says Jay Thomas, who heads safety and compliance for Illinois-based Packard Transport.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne says when a carrier’s safety performance triggers an intervention, “should any of the drivers have a deficient safety rating, this matter will be raised to the carrier – along with the other possible safety performance concerns for that carrier that may exist.” Regardless of the carrier’s rating, if a driver’s safety rating is particularly troublesome, “CSA 2010 will automatically … trigger an intervention with the carrier he/she is associated with.”

Many owner-operators doubt whether CSA 2010 will become a reality, Thomas says. Still, he says, “Sixty percent are very concerned because they have so much invested in being an owner-operator.”

For carriers, because the safety reviews will be monthly and automatic, CSA 2010 will change the way they approach safety. Currently, carrier ratings are limited to compliance review acute/critical violations. Carriers can go as long as years without an audit.

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