House introduces bill directing FMCSA to fix CSA, remove scores from public view

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Indiana State Trooper inspection under truckA bill has been introduced in the U.S. House to require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to remove from public view the carrier rankings and scores produced in the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System from public view.

Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) introduced the legislation Sept. 18. It was referred to the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The public nature of the CSA scores has been one of the industry’s chief concerns, given that shippers, customers and other third-parties could use the scores against carriers, despite the data and ranking problems that have plagued the program since its 2011 inception.

A bevy of trucking groups in recent weeks have sent petitions to Department of Transportation head Anthony Foxx asking him to remove the scores from public view, given their poor performance at measuring carriers’ crash risk and, thus, misconceptions by third-party groups who use the rankings to make judgments about carriers.

Overdrive Senior Editor Todd Dills has written at length in 2013 and 2014 about the data and consistency problems that plague the CSA SMS, problems compounded by the public nature of the scores. Click here to access Overdrive’s CSA’s Data Trail site to see the articles.

Barletta’s Safer Trucks and Buses Act would direct the agency to remove the scores from public view and requires the agency to submit to Congress a plan for improving CSA and a timeline for implementation.

After Congress stamps approval of FMCSA’s changes, CSA rankings could be pushed back into public view.

“As a father of four daughters, I worry every day about the safety of my girls, and I strongly believe that unsafe vehicles should not be on the road,” Barletta said. “Unfortunately, companies across the country and in Pennsylvania are being unfairly misrepresented by their safety scores, causing economically devastating impacts to these bus and truck companies, many of which are small businesses.”

The American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies have voiced support for the bill.

“Misleading information about the safety of individual motor carriers not only leads to negative impacts on small business trucking companies, but it also can mean unintended public safety consequences,” says OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “OOIDA appreciates Rep. Barletta’s leadership toward setting clear standards for accuracy in CSA’s methodology and data, and we urge all supporters of small business truckers and highway safety to support his legislation.”

ATA’s Dave Osiecki said in his statement of support for the bill that CSA is “unreliable and needs substantial improvement.”

“We appreciate Congressman Barletta’s support for the industry and recognition of the need to have a safety measurement system that is reliable, fair and accurate,” Osiecki says.

For the bill to become law, it must be passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president.

GovTrack gives the bill an 8 percent chance of being enacted.

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