The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) this week announced it had taken a major step toward improving commercial truck and bus safety with the launch of its Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program nationwide. FMCSA first launched a field test of CSA in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, and New Jersey in February 2008. Last year, the agency added Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and Montana to the test group. The program was then modified according to testing results and feedback provided by industry partners.
The goal of the CSA (or CSA 2010 as it is commonly called) operational model is to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities, and injuries on U.S. interstates. CSA introduces a new enforcement and compliance model called the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which allows FMCSA and state law enforcement authorities to reach more carriers earlier and deploy a range of corrective interventions to address safety problems before accidents occur.
CSA is essentially a version of the former SafeStat safety performance ranking system re-engineered to work more efficiently and be more effective in identifying problem carriers. The information gleaned from crash and inspection reports will provide FMCSA with a better picture of how well large trucking companies comply with safety rules, making it easier to identify companies that display high-risk behavior or a disregard for laws and basic safety standards.
“The CSA program will help us more easily identify unsafe commercial truck and bus companies,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Better data and targeted enforcement will raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and empower them to take action before safety problems occur.”
Safety interventions under CSA include early warning letters, targeted roadside inspections, and focused compliance reviews.
A federal appeals court recently threw out a lawsuit filed by a group of small trucking companies that wanted to prevent the release of CSA safety data, which will be viewable by the public at large. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the plaintiffs did not meet the standards for a stay pending court review.