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FMCSA misunderstood ATA's statement on CSA, official says

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro pointed to information recently posted on the CSA website as examples of the agency's responsiveness to industry concerns about the safety program.

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

5/24/2012

WASHINGTON — An official of the American Trucking Associations said Thursday that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Anne Ferro misunderstood a statement issued Tuesday by ATA that called for the agency to make changes to the CSA program, and which also said that while the FMCSA had been responsive to suggestions through the development of implementation of CSA, “recently our members have become concerned that the agency has become increasingly unresponsive, even in the face of data and logic.”

Ferro responded to Tuesday’s statement by saying that one of the hallmarks of the CSA program was that the FMCSA had been very open “about what we are doing and about accepting input from industry stakeholders, law enforcement and drivers,” adding that the preview period now under way for changes recently made to CSA embodies proposed changes recommended by the trucking industry.

“ATA did not want to imply that FMCSA has not being willing to meet with ATA or to listen to our concerns,” ATA Vice President for Safety Rob Abbott said Thursday morning. “The agency has done that on several occasions.  However, FMCSA appears unwilling to make a number specific changes ATA believes are absolutely necessary.  We presented these problems and corresponding solutions to FMCSA in a meeting on April 12, but in the majority of instances we believe that they will not accept our suggestions or provide a specific timeline for doing so. Also, on several occasions ATA has asked for a specific timeline on FMCSA’s plan to initiate a crash accountability determination process, but have not received one.”

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Moreover, Abbott said, FMCSA needed to be more frank about the program’s weaknesses, specifically the relationship between BASIC scores and crash risk.

“For example, FMCSA’s recently-released educational materials for shippers, brokers and insurers fails to acknowledge that scores in some categories have a weak or non-existent relationship to crash risk and that one has an inverse relationship to crash risk. In fact one FMCSA document says that all BASICs are important to safety performance, a contradiction of the FMCSA Evaluation of the CSA Operational Model Test.”

“Let the facts speak for themselves,” Ferro said when apprised of the ATA’s specific concerns about CSA. “We have been open and transparent. My public remarks and FMCSA’s outreach materials on CSA demonstrate this in word and action. Look no further than the information we posted to the public CSA website  this month. I am committed to continuing this openness on all aspects of this important program.”

Recently updated materials are available on the right-hand column of the above link, she pointed out.

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

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