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ATA urges further dialogue on CSA data limitations

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves says the FMCSA doesn’t really know how many commercial motor vehicle crashes are occurring or who is involved in them. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services


ARLINGTON, Va.    In a white paper issued Wednesday the American Trucking Associations said it had demonstrated how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety monitoring and measurement system, Compliance Safety Accountability, lacks sufficient data on the majority of the industry to render meaningful scores for most motor carriers.

The ATA said the FMCSA noted it has sufficient violation data to assess 40 percent of active carriers in at least one category but only enough to “assign a percentile rank or score” in at least one category to 12 percent of active carriers.

In fact, the vast majority of these carriers are only assigned a score in one category, the ATA noted. The agency contends this weakness is not problematic since “those carriers are involved in 83 percent of the crashes,” the ATA said.

“This statement concerns us since FMCSA doesn’t really know how many commercial motor vehicle crashes are occurring or who is involved in them. Many crashes simply don’t get reported to the agency,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said.

Previous research conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute confirmed this limitation and, as the white paper highlights, FMCSA’s self-assessment that most states do a “good” job of reporting crashes is questionable, the ATA said in a news release.





UMTRI’s comprehensive analyses clearly demonstrate that some states do a good job while others do a poor job of reporting crashes to FMCSA.  For example, UMTRI found several states report less than 75 percent of their truck crashes to FMCSA, the ATA said. Unfortunately, FMCSA has discontinued funding for the UMTRI crash reporting studies which provide more accurate and reliable assessments of state crash reporting, the association noted.

“Moreover, sole reliance on FMCSA’s estimates does little to provide an understanding of how the CSA system lacks important safety data on the vast majority of the industry,” Graves said.  “This is critical because, as an analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute pointed out perceived safety risk is dependent on the amount of data available on each carrier.

“The foundation of CSA is scores that reflect measures of comparative performance,” he said.  “The fact that the government lacks data to score the vast majority of the industry in most categories calls into question not only the assumptions of those who don’t have enough data to get scored, but those who do. 

"Honest and candid dialogue about data limitations, what currently works with CSA and what doesn’t will lead to both program improvements and highway safety gains.”

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

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