When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created the Compliance Safety Accountability program, there was a lot of uncertainty about how the new rules would impact the transportation industry and what impact CSA would have on highway safety. With a mountain of data now available on the FMCSA Web site, we can draw several important conclusions.
The FMCSA regulates and reports CSA data on 768,322 truck and bus companies, 325,349 of which have had at least one inspection in the last 24 months. What about the other 58 percent? Only 91,722 companies — about 12 percent — have a score on at least one of the five BASICs, or Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories. Finally, 51,230 of the companies with a score on at least one BASIC have at least one score above the intervention threshold.
With the trucking industry’s phenomenal safety record, the FMCSA is flagging more than half of the companies with a score? That makes no sense. Furthermore, the measured carriers are primarily the over-the-road carriers shippers and brokers use. We know the vast majority of these carriers are safe operators.
It gets worse. For the 200 largest trucking companies, CSA scores on three BASICs have absolutely no correlation with accidents per million miles or accidents per power unit. Thanks to the fine work done by Anthony Gallo’s team at Wells Fargo, we know the Fatigued Driving, Unsafe Driving and Driver Fitness BASICs are useless in predicting accident rates.
We need changes. First, the FMCSA should take the scores down from the Web. Many shippers and brokers are credentialing carriers using the BASIC scores. In doing so, many small trucking companies are being damaged by being denied the opportunity to haul freight. Shippers and brokers are also needlessly exposing themselves to additional litigation risks.
Second, the FMCSA should abandon its efforts to establish CSA scores as the basis for safety ratings. Carriers deserve due process. On-site audits are better than faulty mathematical models to determine which carriers are fit for service.