Trucking industry trade associations this week were quick to note that the conclusions reached by a panel of independent researchers regarding the deficiencies of the U.S. DOT’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability carrier rating program had long been hawked since the program’s 2011 start.
Key industry concerns from recent years, such as the scores’ public availability, data quality and quantity issues and the methodology used in CSA’s Safety Measurement System — among other flaws noted by researchers from the National Academies of Science — were highlighted in the NAS panel’s report, which was released Tuesday. Congress dictated NAS study the program and issue recommendations to the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about how it can reform the program to make it more accurate in gauging carriers’ crash risk.
“This report has confirmed much of what we have said about the program for some time: The program, while a valuable enforcement tool, has significant shortcomings that must be addressed,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, on Tuesday.
ATA did not call for the program to be scrapped. Instead, like other industry groups, it pressed FMCSA to adopt NAS’ reform recommendations. “We see great potential in the Academies’ recommendation that FMCSA overhaul the current CSA methodology in favor of a new, more adaptive, data-centric model with the potential to address serious flaws in the system,” said ATA’s Sean Garney, director of safety policy.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in a statement it’s still reviewing the NAS report. But it “[hopes] the agency will take the suggestions seriously, as it appears the panel agrees with many of our stated concerns about the flawed data used to evaluate the safety of carriers.”
The Trucking Alliance, a small association made up of some of the country’s largest carriers, says it hopes the agency engages with carriers, particularly those with strong CSA scores, during the reform process. “The NSA report is correct that with improvements in data collection and state enforcement policies, the CSA rating system can lower the number of large truck accidents, fatalities and injuries,” the group said in a statement. “Further, there are thousands of freight transportation companies with outstanding CSA safety ratings, and they will be the best resource to help the FMCSA improve the CSA, rather than carriers with poor safety ratings that simply want to scrap the program and hide their scores from the public.”