Rose McMurray, Chief Safety Officer for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, addressed the National Association of Small Trucking Companies this month in an effort to clarify the federal government’s intentions and goals set forth by its Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 program.
CSA 2010 is the FMCSA’s “revamped and retooled” commercial motor carrier safety program that introduced a new safety ranking system aimed at keeping unsafe drivers and motor carrier companies off of the nation’s roads. The program has been widely criticized throughout the trucking industry as being too strict and possibly damaging to carrier companies and individual drivers.
The federal government defends the program, saying that a better, more comprehensive and interconnected system is needed to identify problem drivers and carrier companies quickly. The need for more transparency and speed is essential now more than ever. Today, trucking-related industries employ five percent of the nation’s population, and thousands of trucks from Mexico and Canada navigating the roadways make a logical and coherent rating system even more imperative.
McMurray said that the Obama administration is modifying Hours of Service (HOS) rules that restrict how many hours of driving commercial motor vehicle drivers may complete before taking a rest. She said that data and evidence on fatigue and fatigue-related crashes would be “rooted in evidence and performance data” and any changes to the duty requirements would be proposed by the fall. Proposed changes will be open to public feedback before becoming law.
McMurray reiterated that while the FMCSA is committed to making the roads safer by “raising the bar” on trucking and bussing safety, safe drivers and safety-minded carriers need not worry about the new system. She said the FMCSA expects “companies and drivers to maintain the required safety standards” and that it would “remove the companies and drivers that don’t.”
“Contrary to some people’s views of government, our interest is not to fine or penalize people. It’s to provide a means for us to identify the companies and drivers who have poor safety records and then find remedies to improve their performance,’ McMurray added.
McMurray also said that the agency has an “overwhelming number” of companies to oversee – more than half a million — and that the old system represented “the inability to truly know the current and up-to-date safety condition of those thousands of companies.”
CSA 2010 will give the FMCSA an early indication of shortcomings in seven areas of safety. The agency will use the data to remind companies and drivers of their obligations to operate safely. The intervention can range from a simple letter of warning to a proposed civil penalty depending on the frequency and severity of the violations.
Regulators will be able to monitor over time whether carriers have taken steps to improve weaknesses. Companies that have not improved will be subjected to closer scrutiny and penalties.
The government will make this data, updated monthly, available to the general public. Because customers, employers, and insurance carriers will have access to the information, the FMCSA believes the new transparency will motivate substandard carriers to improve.