ATA's Graves to FMCSA: Acknowledge CSA limitations or program won't reach goals
In the two-page white paper, titled “Compliance, Safety, Accountability – Let’s Not Make it an Ashtray,” ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Rob Abbott, above, says FMCSA is touting the benefits of its program, even if they don’t match the intended goal. Courtesy: AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS)
The Trucker News Services
ARLINGTON, Va. – The top official of the American Trucking Associations says that unless the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration acknowledges certain limitations of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, CSA will fall short of reaching its full potential.
ATA President and CEO Bill Graves made his statement in conjunction with the release of white paper Wednesday that urged the FMCSA to remain committed to the goal of CSA: to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities.
“From the outset, ATA has supported the objectives of CSA to provide a means for FMCSA to more efficiently and effectively reduce truck crashes,” Graves said. “However, unless FMCSA acknowledges certain limitations of the program and makes corresponding improvements, CSA will fall short of reaching its full potential.”
A spokesperson for the FMCSA did not immediately respond to the release of the white paper nor Graves’ comment.
The release of the white paper is one of only several challenges thrown by ATA at FMCSA in recent weeks.
On June 4, the ATA called on FMCSA Administration Anne Ferro to release the results of FMCSA’s study on the use of police reports to determine crash accountability.
Some 10 days later, the FMCSA announced plans to release the study soon.
At a leadership meeting in Tampa last month, the ATA’s board of directors called on the agency to make changes to CSA.
“From the outset, ATA has supported FMCSA’s efforts to improve its enforcement capabilities through CSA,” Graves said at Tampa. “Through CSA’s development and implementation the agency had been responsive to suggestions and made an effort to improve the program as needed. However, recently our members have become concerned that the agency has become increasingly unresponsive, even in the face of data and logic.”
ATA’s Board and members said the unreliability of CSA scores, the loose or, at times, inverse connection to crash risk, as well as FMCSA’s unwillingness to frankly discuss the program's weaknesses is very troubling and needs to be addressed.
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Ferro responded 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.
In the two-page white paper, titled “Compliance, Safety, Accountability – Let’s Not Make it an Ashtray,” ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Rob Abbott says FMCSA is touting the benefits of its program, even if they don’t match the intended goal.
“According to the first paragraph of the CSA methodology, the goal of CSA is to implement more effective and efficient ways for FMCSA, its state partners, and the trucking industry to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities, and injuries,” Abbott writes. “Logically, scores in each of the measurement categories should reliably identify carriers more likely to cause crashes. However, in some instances, they do not.”
As a result, he says, FMCSA must guard against revising the goal of the program from identifying those carriers that are the crash-prone, to highlighting the importance of regulatory compliance.
“It may be tempting for FMCSA to simply change the stated goal of CSA to match the output. Placing an emphasis on compliance is certainly important,” Abbott concludes, “But in the end we should remember that CSA is about prioritizing carriers for intervention. Accordingly, most people would probably agree that the highest priority should be placed on identifying motor carriers and drivers that are causing crashes and changing their behavior.”
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