Back in 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a new truck-safety monitoring effort called the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. This program was designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency’s efforts in addressing motor carrier safety issues.
This FMCSA compliance program is intended to improve safety monitoring, carrier evaluation and safety intervention, but will it work? Let’s take a closer look at the details.
What Came Before?
The CSA program was born out of a study that’s been ongoing since the 1970s. Back then the government and industry stakeholders got together in an attempt to progressively reduce the number of commercial motor vehicle accidents that resulted in injuries or fatalities.
Before the CSA, FMCSA was using a model called SafeStat. This model was resource heavy and didn’t have the scope required to reach more than just a small fraction of the nation’s 700,000 interstate motor carriers.
The SafeStat system measured safety in a one-size-fits-all way that didn’t place enough focus on the behavioral aspects of crashes. There also was scant attention given to the drivers of commercial motor vehicles, which in turn limited the data’s effectiveness.
How Does CSA Work?
The CSA program was designed to effectively leverage State and Federal resources to provide more targeted solutions to potential safety concerns. The enforcement and compliance components are streamlined to work hand-in-hand, across multiple agencies.
The CSA operational model uses the following three main components:
- Measurement: CSA will gather inspection and crash data to pinpoint carriers who are exhibiting high-risk behaviors.
- Evaluation: The FMCSA will combine the CSA with the Safety Fitness Determination methodology to determine when a specific safety problem is present.
- Intervention: Enforcement officials will have new tools at their disposal in addressing safety compliance problems. They expect to reach more carriers and be more effective in mitigating safety concerns.
The second arrow in the CSA quiver is the Safety Management System (SMS). The SMS uses roadside inspection data combined with crash information to provide new data sets that enforcement officials use to find targeted solutions to carrier-specific problems.
Getting Back To BASICS
The final factor in the CSA analysis will be in addressing Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The prior safety model did not address behavioral aspects of truck driver safety, which the BASICs model is intended to do.
These are the seven BASIC categories that CSA will use in creating data sets:
- Alcohol and drugs: Includes the use of or possession of a controlled substance or alcohol.
- Cargo security: Dropped cargo, size or weight violations, or unsafe handling of hazardous cargo.
- Crash indicators: A pattern of crashes, judged by severity and frequency.
- Driver fitness: Not having a valid commercial driver’s license or being medically unfit.
- Fatigued driving: Maintaining an inaccurate logbook or driving while fatigued.
- Unsafe driving: Inattention, speeding, improper lane changes or reckless driving.
- Vehicle maintenance: Not maintaining vehicle upkeep or having serious mechanical problems.
When a BASIC is violated, an alert is created. Every month the FMCSA uploads the new data into SMS and places a weight on each violation. The violations are weighted on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 the most severe.
Within each of the seven categories, carriers not only receive a numerical score, but they are ranked as well. The carriers with the highest score receive a 100% rating, while the lowest comes in at 0%, with everyone else somewhere in between.
Even though CSA has been in development for a number of years, there’s still a fair amount of questions surrounding its efficacy and whether or not it will have a tangible impact on trucking safety. Next week we’re going to take a look at whether any independent studies have been done to either validate or invalidate the usefulness of CSA, so stay tuned!