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Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Slight progress on crash accountability – and some maddening examples

| February 07, 2013

What’s arguably the biggest unfairness within CSA – crash accountability – was back on the table this week. A few strides were made in the right direction, but the issue shows just how complex a massive data gathering program gets when blame is at stake. And how paralyzing it is to try to straighten out the mess.

A police chase ended when this allegedly stolen SUV struck a tanker truck. (Photo courtesy of Zeke Vlashi)

After the Feb. 5-6 meeting of the CSA Subcommittee to the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, the American Trucking Associations reiterated its long-held position on crash accountability within the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. ATA called for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish immediately a process to remove from carriers’ records crashes where it was plainly evident that the carrier was not to blame. CSA scores now are based on all crashes the carrier is involved with, including those that the truckers did not cause and could not reasonably have prevented.

An eight-person majority on the subcommittee ultimately showed preference for what they called the fault standard over DOT preventability. Both are fraught with problems of consistency and accuracy, so ATA might as well drop “immediately” from its plea. Keep in mind this was a subcommittee to a committee that serves a giant federal agency not known for its two-step dancing abilities.

If you want to learn more about the nuances of the issue, read Senior Editor Todd Dills’ excellent report from the second day of the hearing. And for other CSA topics, check his report from the first day and his blog commentary.

Finally, if you’re feeling sluggish and would like to get your blood boiling over the issue, ATA cites three outrageous examples where the truck driver and his carrier should clearly be kept out of any negative scoring:

  • Tony Valdez

    The current fault standard is absolutely ridiculous, at the first part of last year my wife and I were coming out of Houston on I-10 through road construction that narrowed to one lane in front of igloo. The four wheelers were all getting off on the access road to try and flank the west bound herd but to their surprise the access road dead ended and it had rained pretty good recently trapping them, well this little punk in a four wheel drive pickup made it across and tried shoving in front of us, my wife was driving and refused to let him in, Hell we’d been sitting in line for 45 minutes, Anyway he was yelling out his window and giving us the bird as he ran out of lane and we waved goodbye as he sat at that big orange water weight by the flashing sign. We figured that was all we had seen of him we got up to speed there was hardly any traffic coming out of 1 lane onto 3 when all of a sudden this little prick in his pickup flies around us cutting us off and locks up his brakes never letting off. Yeah we didn’t have anywhere to go go, the cop asked why we didn’t swerve and if any of you guys actually load your trailers and run 65-70 mph you know why she didn’t swerve. This punk had two little girls a young kid and a little 8 yr old boy in his pickup, we could have killed them all and us because he was throwing a fit. To me that was assault with a 3/4 ton pickup, no witnesses stopped so he lied and said a car stopped in front of him, we did not get a ticket but as far as CSA is concerned she was at fault because she has a CDL and as a proffessional driver she should have been prepared for any circumstances, now we have trouble getting work through anyone who uses CSA scores, which is everyone, and our story is not that uncommon. Now my Brother is in the middle of a lawsuit where a girl, with no DL or insurance, running about 120 miles an hour tried passing him on the right as he made a right turn off a two lane road with an escort in front of and behind him. Her passengers did some hospital time. This crap pisses me off it makes no sense for non CDL drivers not to be accountable for their actions, even though he had several witnesses stop and give account these crazy ass people are suing him, slandering him. I think I’m gonna run for president once we impeach Obama and my first business will be to eliminate any overlapping gov agencies and order any lawyers representing bogus lawsuits like this to repay the accused 7 fold, starting with that McDonald’s hot coffee crap and following every case that used that as precedent.

  • Mike Smith

    Mexicans in r country are a serious problem & r gov does nothing about it, giving them a free pass as stated here. We must figure out how to stand up to r corrupt gov & the massive numbers of Mexicans they have allowed into r country. The r killing us with there cheap Mexican wage hauling as well.

  • Mike Smith


  • localnet

    Those days are long gone…

  • OTRDriver

    A case where a DashCam could have made a difference between citation and exoneration, It’s becoming more and more necessary we as CMV operators we protect ourselves because JQPublic has convinced even law enforcement that we are not the “professionals” we claim to be…

  • Very Unfair

    One of my drivers was northbound on I-75 in Kentucky when a boulder rolled off the mountain and knocked him into the median where he rolled over. Yes, it met the definition for reportable accident since he had to be uprighted and towed, and we now live with it on our record for another year and a a half. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.