FMCSA moves to tie carrier ratings to CSA

By Jami Jones, managing editor

In spite of universal criticism of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety ranking program, Compliance, Safety, Accountability or CSA, the agency is moving forward with a plan to tie carrier fitness determinations to the program.

In late June, the agency submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget that will modify how the agency assigns carrier safety fitness determinations to motor carriers.

Currently, safety fitness ratings are only assigned to motor carriers following a compliance or safety review. Carriers are rated as “satisfactory,” “conditional,” or “unsatisfactory.”

Depending on the noncompliance found during a review, if not too severe, the motor carrier can continue to operate even with an “unsatisfactory” for a time period designated by the agency in order to correct the noncompliance.

An “unsatisfactory” rating can lead to a motor carrier being placed out of service if the noncompliance is severe or actions are not taken by the motor carrier to correct the noncompliance.

The agency, however, is proposing to loop in CSA to the carrier safety fitness determination process. Motor carriers would have their carrier safety fitness rating assigned based on:

  • Safety rankings within the CSA program;
  • An investigation; or
  • A combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

The most concerning element of the plan is linking the carrier safety fitness determination to the automated CSA safety rankings in various compliance categories, called BASICs.

Government studies, OOIDA and other industry stake holders, as well as law enforcement contend that the program’s ability to link crash risk to compliance is flawed at this time, and the scores should not be publicly viewable. Legislation is pending to Congress to remove the rankings from public view.

In spite of all this, the agency is moving ahead to tie yet another safety label to motor carriers based on the program.

“It’s apparent to everyone from drivers, to lawmakers, to law enforcement that CSA is flawed,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “The agency’s stubbornness in proceeding with a proposal to tie carrier safety fitness determination to this program is irresponsible and bullheaded.” LL