In what appears to be an effort to make a substantive change to the CSA safety evaluation program rather than a piecemeal fix, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week said it had withdrawn its previously proposed changes to CSA so it can concentrate on what is reportedly a more sweeping overhaul suggested by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
Since CSA’s inception in 2010, trucking stakeholders have claimed CSA is flawed. The NAS in June last year in a Congressionally mandated report said CSA was a sound idea but the system the government used to collect and evaluate data was flawed.
FMCSA proposed fixes but now has now withdrawn those proposals, FMCSA said in a brief statement officially dated July 10.
Some stakeholders had commented that if changes were made using the same CSA data-collection chassis, as it were, the vehicle would still be broken.
One of the key recommendations of the NAS was that FMCSA build a new system of data collection and analysis called the Item Response Theory or IRT, which is said to be more about probabilities than tallying violations.
In its background information accompanying its withdrawal announcement made public July 13, FMCSA noted that “the NAS cautioned the agency against making changes to the algorithm based on ad-hoc analysis and instead to rely on the IRT.”
FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez told The Trucker News Organization recently that he wants “the regulated community to have confidence in our system of [CSA] evaluation” and that “it starts with data. Are we collecting good data? Are we evaluating it properly and what does it mean? How are we then turning that, along with our state partners, into enforcement?”
Asked about making the data available for viewing by the public once again, Martinez said that while he is all for transparency, the agency needs to make sure that the analysis of that data, the methodology used to collect it and the analysis of it, “is fair.”
Martinez added that redoing CSA is “a work in progress” but that “I’m hopeful that at some point we would get to a point where we would all agree that the information should be transparent.”
The FMCSA proposals being withdrawn include changes to the intervention thresholds used by the agency to decide which carriers are a crash risk; segmenting the hazardous materials BASIC and making it public; making the violation for operating out-of-service show up under the unsafe driving BASIC rather than under the specific violation BASIC; increasing the maximum vehicle miles traveled in its carrier calculations; making the intervention threshold in the vehicle maintenance BASIC the 75th rather than the 80th percentile; raising the controlled substances BASIC to the 90th percentile; and keeping the 65th percentile the intervention threshold for unsafe driving, crash indicator and Hours of Service compliance.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.