While I was in my twenties I met and became good friends with a guy from Hawaii. This poor soul had moved from Oahu to Oklahoma during his senior year in high school.
During one of our conversations about life in the islands I commented on how hard it must be to body surf. My friend replied that while it may appear difficult, if you followed four basic rules almost anyone could ride a wave. The rules are: pick the wave you want to ride; pick the direction you want to go; swim, kick and paddle like hell in the direction you want to go well before the wave reaches you; and once you get on the wave, stay in a streamlined position.
The purpose of this article is to try and help you learn how to ride the CSA 2010 wave and make it to shore in one piece. Accordingly, we will look at each of the four rules above and how it applies to riding CSA 2010.
Pick the wave you want to ride
To use this bodysurfing analogy, CSA 2010 is a big wave that is headed to shore.
When I first wrote this article, FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro had just spoken with the American Trucking Associations board of directors and said that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was “absolutely wedded” to CSA 2010 and that it was set to go live this summer regardless of the fact that “it is not going to be a program we get right from the get-go.” I initially questioned the soundness of this decision; however, since Ms. Ferro made her remarks the FMCSA may have changed its position.
In numerous industry releases, including an update put out by ATA, it has been reported that the FMCSA has decided to delay full implementation of CSA 2010. However, this has not been confirmed by the FMCSA. If true, the FMCSA has had what addicts call “a brief moment of clarity.”
According to reports being circulated, the FMCSA has decided to phase in CSA 2010 and will provide motor carriers with a limited preview of their CSA 2010 data beginning on April 12. This preview will not include information on their BASIC scores. This information is currently scheduled to be made available by FMCSA to carriers and the public on Nov. 30. On this date, the agency will introduce its full carrier safety measurement system (“CSMS”) and warning letters will be mailed to deficient carriers.
Between November 30 and the date when CSA 2010 will be fully implemented — now scheduled to take place in spring/summer of 2011 — the FMCSA will not utilize the full range of interventions that will be available when CSA 2010 is fully in place. Instead, it will use its standard on-site compliance reviews.
If the FMCSA decides to delay implementation of CSA 2010, I sincerely hope that it will use this additional time to address certain problems inherent in the program. I am not the only person to note these problems and, in fact, numerous individuals, carriers and associations have expressed their concern. A few areas of concern include:
• All accidents will be considered in calculating an SMS score regardless of fault
• FMCSA will use the number of trucks a company operates rather than miles traveled in determining the “frequency of violations”
• By issuing warnings rather than citations, there is no “due process” way for carriers to challenge violations they feel may have been assigned in error, and
• Eliminate pre-screening of drivers so that all driver inspections are level 3 inspections thus allowing the carriers to receive credit for clean inspections. Let’s hope that these issues are addressed before CSA 2010 (CSA 2011?) becomes fully implemented.
While the scenario noted above is getting a lot of press in the industry, it has yet to be confirmed by the FMCSA. In fact, on thetrucker.com Web site, The Trucker reported April 2 that contrary to updates released by ATA the FMCSA insists the “launch” of CSA 2010 will not be delayed until next year.
Of course, nobody knows what the FMCSA means by the term “launch.” It could just be political speak to save face and the updates from the ATA and others are accurate; or it could mean that it plans to plow ahead and go live this summer.
I guess the moral to this story is summarized by the Texas Motor Transportation Association which noted in its April 1 TMTA TruckFacts e-mail to its members, that “[I]t is important to note that regardless of when CSA 2010 is enforced, data going back two years for a company will be used. It is pertinent that companies address all compliance issues immediately so they will be prepared.”
Next: Pick the direction you want to go.
Jim C. Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm dedicated to legal defense of the nation's commercial drivers. Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the 48 states on both moving and nonmoving violations. He is also president of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at discounted rates. A former prosecutor, he is a lawyer who has focused on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking and life over-the-road and has his Commercial Drivers License.