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Congressmen ask DOT OIG to audit, evaluate CSA

Witness testimony at a recent hearing raised concerns about effectiveness of CSA, two members of the House Subcommttee on Highways and Transit said.

The Trucker News Services

10/16/2012

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and its ranking member have asked the inspector general of the Department of Transportation to conduct an audit and evaluation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) measurement system.

In a letter to Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III, Rep. John J. Duncan, R-Tenn., and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., pointed to a recent subcommittee hearing during which “data and mythology concerns were raised that may be undermining CSA’s effectiveness.”

Duncan and DeFazio said witnesses at the hearing raised concerns that a lack of adequate safety data, inappropriate weighting of violations and other scoring problems “are causing CSA to erroneously label safety performance.”

The letter also noted that witnesses cited an analysis by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that revealed that motor carriers’ CSA scores in some categories did not bear a strong resemblance to crash risk.

“These and other concerns call into question whether CSA enables FMCSA to properly prioritize the least safe carriers for intervention.” the letter said. “This is of concern since third parties that utilize CSA scores to evaluate carriers may be making ill-guided safety-based decisions.”

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The letter also included several questions that the Congressmen wanted answered in the audit, among them:

• What percent of active motor carriers have sufficient data in FMCSA’s Safety Management System to generate a score in any of the seven measurement categories?

• In each of the BASICs, do carriers with scores above the threshold post a greater risk (higher crash rate) that those with scores below the threshold (and had sufficient data to generate a score) in that same BASIC?

• In each BASIC, please characterize the relationship between scores and future crash risk.

• Has FMCSA been transparent with respect to the data on which violation severity weights are based?

• FMCSA makes a carrier's scores public so that third parties involved in the transportation industry can make safety-based business decisions. Given your findings, is a carrier’s CSA score an accurate portrayal of the safety of the carrier? If so, is this accurate for all BASICs?

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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