SCDigest Editorial Staff
Just a week before the government's Compliance, Safety and Accountability 2010 (CSA 2010) program is set to be operational, a coalition of transportation groups largely representing smaller carriers has petitioned a federal appeals court in Washington DC to block implementation of the program, or at minimum prohibit the public release of certain CSA data until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviews some aspects of the new regulations.
The National Association of Small Trucking Companies, The Expedite Alliance of North America and the Air & Expedited Motor Carriers Association together filed the motion for an emergency stay with court. CSA data is currently scheduled to be published starting Dec. 5.
CSA 2010 assigns safety scores to carriers through use of additional metrics than in the past, including all safety-based roadside inspection violations and assessments and violation/citation histories of individual drivers and will update carrier scores more often. The fear from some quarters is that this will knock many existing drivers off the roads, while others worry that the impact will fall disproportionately on smaller carriers, who may tend to hire drivers with less clean driving histories.
Afraid of low scores that could lead shippers to drop poorly-ranked carriers or that could be cited as evidence in lawsuits related to future accidents, many smaller carriers see CSA as a major business threat.
In the court filing, the three groups said that FMCSA should disclose fully to the industry and public all aspects of its proposed rule, including:
- The algorithms and other formulas the agency plans to use in developing carriers’ Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) grades and classifications
- The sample populations used in developing the percentiles and other criteria the agency will utilize in grading carriers as to safety
- The procedures the agency will use, if any, to determine that alleged violations are reported accurately.
However, the industry's largest group, the American Trucking Associations (ATA), said that while it continues to have some concerns with the CSA 2010 methodology, it has decided not to join the other groups in challenging the program in court.
Bob Digges, ATA’s vice president and chief counsel, said the ATA has evaluated the merits of the legal arguments and believes they have a very limited chance of being successful.
“Further, ATA believes greater gains can and have been made by working with the agency to make needed improvements to ensure that scores are both fair and accurate,” the ATA said this week in a member email alert. “In those categories where the accuracy of scores is questionable (the Crash Indicator and Cargo-Related BASIC) scores should appropriately be kept from public view.”
On August 16, 2010, FMCSA began providing carriers with information about where they stand in each of the new CSA SMS’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) based on roadside inspection data and investigation findings.
Just this week, the agency also announced a couple of modifications to the program, based on community feedback. Those included changing the term “Deficient” to “Alert” when a motor carrier’s score in one or more BASICs is above the FMCSA threshold for intervention, changing the highlight color from red to orange, and making some changes in the algorithms used to compute the scores.
(Transportation Management Article - Continued Below)