At the end of December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, launched a new program intended to improve commercial truck and bus safety. The Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program compiles safety violations in an effort to help reduce accidents involving commercial vehicles and to provide consumers with information about how safe specific commercial motor carriers are.
The main part of the CSA is the Safety Measurement System (SMS) which collects inspection and crash data for each motor carrier to get a holistic picture of how their commercial trucks and buses are performing on the roads. By tracking this information, the FMCSA can specifically address safety concerns and target corrective actions for each individual commercial motor carrier company.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that "The CSA program will help us more easily identify unsafe commercial truck and bus companies. Better data and targeted enforcement will raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and empower them to take action before safety problems occur."
The information gathered by the CSA provides the average consumer a better idea of which carriers pose a safety risk. The SMS tool uses seven categories, called BASICs, to evaluate the potential crash risk of a motor carrier based on:
- Unsafe driving, tracked by moving violations such as speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change and inattentive driving
- Fatigued driving, based on compliance with hours-of-service regulations
- Driver fitness, including valid license violations and being medically unqualified
- Controlled substances and alcohol use, such as misuse of prescription drugs and illegal substances
- Vehicle maintenance
- Cargo-related problems, tracked by improper load and hazardous material handing violations
- Crash history
These seven categories are more specific than the FMCSA's old measurement system, and allow the FMCSA and local law enforcement agencies to identify commercial motor carriers with high-risk patterns. By identifying risk early, corrective actions can be taken immediately and hopefully prevent large truck accidents or commercial bus collisions.
Corrective actions, or "safety interventions," include measures such as warning letters, compliance reviews, and roadside inspections. If a motor carrier does not follow up on corrective action, then the FMCSA can enforce civil penalties.
Source: New CSA Program Launched