Slight progress on crash accountability – and some maddening examples

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Updated Feb 8, 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)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:

  • Suspected drunk driver rear-ends gasoline tanker.
  • Pursuit of stolen SUV ends in tank truck crash.
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