Personal Injury

Study finds CSA safety rating system works well, but still has flaws

csa 2010 e1292610367304 100x33 Study finds CSA safety rating system works well, but still has flaws An independent analysis of the CSA safety enforcement system, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gradually phased in to replace the old SafeStat model, has found the new system to be a highly effective system overall, but says it still needs improvements in some parts.

The study, conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, provided a comprehensive analysis of the CSA model to determine if its new Safety Measurement System (SMS) system performed better than the SafeStat method. According to, the researchers found the new system was indeed better; it reached more carriers and helped improve their performance. But two of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) needed adjustment.

The BASICs include grading for fatigued driving / Hours-of-Service compliance; driver fitness; controlled substances & alcohol; vehicle maintenance; cargo securement; and crash indicators. According to the UMTRI report, the driver fitness and cargo securement BASICs were weaker indicators of crash risk than the other BASICs.

CSA’s SMS 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 provide FMCSA with a better picture of how well commercial carriers and drivers comply with safety rules, making it easier to identify which display high-risk behavior or a disregard for laws and basic safety standards. reports that researchers involved in the CSA analysis “found that there was a lag time in measureable safety performance improvement after investigations, and that carriers with serious safety problems showed improvement rates similar to those in the control group,” indicating that the new program is achieving its goal of pushing trucking companies and drivers to adhere to high safety standards.

The UMTRI report also notes that the FMCSA is also conducting a study that could led to the needed improvements.