Panel highlights CSA data-quality issues
Data cart before the horse
FMCSA is working on enhancements to the public display of information at the CSA Safety Measurement System website. The agency plans to “put out a Federal Register notice soliciting information from the public” pertaining to the website in the “next couple of months,” said Bill Quade, FMCSA Associate Administrator for Enforcement. “Depending on what we get, in the Spring we’d propose specific changes to the way we display information” there.
While members of the MCSAC CSA subcommittee offered a variety of suggestions in the second half of the meeting, including a potential return to a more prominent role for disclaimers about appropriate use of SMS data by members of the public, discussion repeatedly ambled back to bedrock data-quality issues.
True Value Company Transportation Senior Director Gary Palmer noted that carriers are now dealing with the growing reality that “there are a lot of shippers out there using this data without a clue about any of the problems. People in our society today don’t read the legalese — I appreciate that there is a disclaimer, but I don’t think people are reading it…. Until we fix the data we’ve got to make that very clear. I’ve got shippers who are eliminating carriers from consideration whose relative score [is as low as] 40-50 percent” in one or more Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category.
When the public views a CSA BASIC percentile measure, said Petrancosta, “you should have a big pop-up note that there is a strong correlation or no correlation” to actual crash risk, the latter of which has been demonstrated for both Driver Fitness and Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASICs.
Jeff Tucker, head of the Tucker Company Worldwide brokerage, questioned the public usefulness of the scores in total. “I am struggling tremendously with what to do with the data right now” in his business, he said. It’s usefulness outside of the purposes of law enforcement and motor carriers, he suggested, was little.
Several panelists suggested not displaying the BASIC scores but continuing to include the data for a sort of carrier version of driver Pre-Employment Screening Program reports.
“I understand the data’s not perfect,” said FMCSA’s Quade, “but I don’t see a good alternative that we can implement in the political realities of the day.” Furthermore, he added, “hiding the data would take investigators off the road and into our [Freedom of Information Act] office to deal with the requests,” an ultimate detriment, he felt, to safety.