Last-minute changes to the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative announced last Thursday will benefit truckers, but will leave some shippers wondering how to assess their carriers’ safety performance.
But CSA 2010 initiative is a work in progress, with a rulemaking and other potential changes still coming from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
On Nov. 18, The FMCSA said it is revising its CSA 2010 Safety Measurement System, dropping the word “deficient” from its vocabulary. Carriers that exceed threshold levels in any of seven categories instead will be placed on “alert.”
The FMCSA said an “alert” in a carrier’s SMS results simply means the company is prioritized for an FMCSA “intervention” — starting with a warning letter — and that “alerts” do not signify or imply a safety rating or safety fitness determination.
That’s a relief to the trucking industry, which was concerned that shippers could misread SMS data by equating it to the old FMCSA safety rating system, in which a carrier was either “satisfactory,” “conditional” or “unsatisfactory.”
A carrier’s seven “BASIC” category scores are not the equivalent of a final safety rating, and aren’t meant to be used as such, the agency and truckers both stress.
To further underscore the difference between the systems, FMCSA said it will change the color used to highlight carrier “alerts” from red to orange.
The FMCSA will also “recalibrate” one of it BASIC categories by adjusting the severity weightings for violations of rules on how to properly secure cargo. The agency will also keep carriers’ intervention status private.
The FMCSA found its weightings disproportionally affected certain types of carriers.
“ATA continues to support the objectives of CSA 2010 … and we are pleased with the agency's decision to continue working on its Cargo-Related BASIC to get it right before it's made public,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said.
However, that means FMCSA will withhold information on alerts in two categories – the cargo-related and crash BASICs – when it makes much of its SMS public Dec. 5. That information will be accessible to the FMCSA and motor carriers only.
That could pose a challenge for shippers and third-party logistics companies trying to assess their exposure to legal liability when contracting a trucker.
Shippers and 3PLs are concerned they could be held liable by juries in accident lawsuits if their carriers have “alerts” in one or more BASICs.
Shippers and logistics providers at the recent National Industrial Transportation League annual meeting said they need a system that will give them a clear indication of a potential supplier’s safety status and help them differentiate between carriers.
The agency opened its SMS and BASIC records to motor carriers in August. It said it will continue to adjust and refine its system as it rolls it out over the next year.
--Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.