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August 4, 2010

FMCSA Provides Motor Carriers with an Early Look at CSA 2010 Safety Standings; Announces Improvements to the Safety Measurement System; Addresses Recently Raised Concerns


The U. S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is pleased to announce the next step in the phased rollout of Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010).

Motor Carrier Data Preview:
In April 2010, FMCSA launched the CSA 2010 Data Preview Website which allowed commercial motor vehicle carriers to view an inventory of their safety performance data by the new Safety Measurement System’s (SMS) Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). On August 16, 2010, FMCSA will update the Data Preview Website by providing carriers with an assessment of where they stand in each BASIC based on roadside data and investigation findings. The SMS’s seven BASICs are Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service), Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo-Related and Crash Indicator. The BASICs will replace SafeStat’s Safety Evaluation Areas (SEAs) in December 2010, and this early look gives motor carriers an opportunity to understand and address their safety compliance issues right away.

Recent Updates to SMS:
The Data Preview assessments will be based on an improved SMS methodology. As a result of input from enforcement personnel, industry representatives, and safety experts, as well as findings from an extensive, 30-month field test, FMCSA is implementing several updates to the SMS that will make it more effective in identifying high risk and other carriers with safety compliance problems. Specifically:

  • The measure of exposure will be changed from Power Units (PUs) only to a combination of PUs and Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) in the Unsafe Driving BASIC and Crash Indicator. In addition, these two BASICs will change from using PUs as a safety event grouping (formerly referred to as peer grouping) to using the number of crashes for the Crash Indicator and the number of inspections with a violation for the Unsafe Driving BASIC.
  • The measure of exposure will change from PUs to the number of relevant inspections in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC;
  • Severity weights for some roadside inspection violations will be updated; and
  • The Agency will employ a more strategic approach to addressing motor carriers with a history of size and weight violations rather than counting these violations in the Cargo-Related BASIC; the new approach will include alerts to roadside inspectors when carriers have a history of size and weight violations.

These enhancements will allow the Agency to more effectively identify motor carriers with safety performance and compliance problems thereby raising the bar for safety on the Nation’s roads. For additional details about the Data Preview and the improvements to the SMS, visit: https://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMSImprovementsFAQs.pdf

Preliminary University of Michigan Transportation Institute (UMTRI) Findings:
FMCSA’s 30-month field test of CSA 2010 has drawn keen interest from the trucking industry, including trade publications. Recently one of these publications reported preliminary findings provided by FMCSA’s independent evaluator, UMTRI, that indicate that while the majority of the BASICs have a strong relationship to future crashes, two of the seven – Driver Fitness and Cargo-Related - do not. The question was raised whether these findings would delay implementation.
In the interest of safety, and based on promising field test results, FMCSA’s implementation of CSA 2010 will continue according to its published schedule available at: https://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/csa_when.aspx.

The SMS was designed to: (1) Identify high-risk motor carriers for priority intervention; those that have a greater propensity to be involved in future crashes, and (2) Identify motor carriers with patterns of on-road performance and compliance issues for intervention. SMS does both very well.
With respect to identifying high risk carriers, FMCSA effectiveness testing results demonstrate that those carriers that SMS identifies as “high-risk” have much higher future crash rates than those carriers not designated as high risk. Additionally, the effectiveness testing shows SMS identifies a group of carriers with higher crash risk than the system currently in use known as SafeStat.

SMS clearly identifies motor carriers with compliance issues as well, regardless of whether those compliance issues are linked to future crash risk through effectiveness testing. Congress has been clear that the FMCSA is a compliance and enforcement agency. While the effectiveness testing may not establish a relationship with future crashes in the Driver Fitness and Cargo-Related BASICs, FMCSA, as well as industry, has an obligation to ensure compliance with the regulations that contribute to these two BASICs. These two BASICs include being properly licensed, carrying medical cards to allow verification that a driver meets the medical qualification standards, adequately securing cargo, and properly packaging and handling hazardous materials.
UMTRI’s preliminary findings are in line with FMCSA’s effectiveness findings in terms of future crash risk. In response, FMCSA has adjusted how it identifies carriers for investigation so that the BASICs that have the strongest relationship to future crashes receive the most emphasis. In this way, FMCSA will address those carriers with the highest propensity for future crashes as well as those with the strongest patterns of noncompliance.

To learn more about CSA 2010, and to stay updated during the coming months, subscribe to the CSA 2010 RSS feed or email list at https://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Thank You,
CSA 2010 Web Team
USDOT/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

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