For more than a year, the trucking industry has been anticipating the launch of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA). The goal of this new national safety initiative for commercial motor vehicles is to reduce crashes and fatalities, and target safety issues in the trucking industry.
While the rate of commercial carrier fatal crashes has decreased since the 1970s, federal and state enforcement agencies recognize inadequacies in existing monitoring and intervention protocols. As a result, the CSA field test was launched in February 2008. From this field test, new safety interventions were applied to all hazmat and interstate motor carriers and feedback was used in developing the new standards.
The CSA, building on the FMCSA’s existing success, will offer a new safety measurement system and new measurement tools. With three major components, the CSA will focus on measuring safety performance, evaluating high risk behaviors and tailoring more effective interventions. Commercial carriers will have to adapt their internal processes and develop new measurement technologies in order to meet the demands under these new guidelines. For example, the CSA calls for the replacement of the old SafeStat system with the Safety Measurement System (SMS). Under SMS, monthly safety fitness determinations will be made of each motor carrier. These determinations, based on Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), will weigh driver fitness, unsafe driving, fatigued driving, vehicle maintenance, alcohol or controlled substance use, crash history and cargo loading or securement. Problems in any of these areas could result in something as minor as a warning letter or as major as an “out of service” order.
While the American Trucking Association supports the CSA initiative, it also has concerns about how certain values or measures will impact its members. Unanticipated and unfair results could come from system oversights. In its present form, the CSA could potentially measure truck-involved crashes before actual cause determinations are made, and consider unadjudicated traffic warnings against a carrier’s overall SMS score.
When the CSA 2010 is launched in December, it will affect law enforcement, federal and state regulators and the transportation industry as a whole. The success of this new national safety program, if it holds true to the model, will not only save lives, but make America’s highways safer