CSA Issues for Carrier Comments

AMSA sent its members a memorandum from the FMCSA indicating their extension of the comment period on the CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) program. We have compiled a list of major issues with CSA and encourage AMSA members to file comments on this important federal safety program. Of course, AMSA members can include additional issues in their comments, but the following list of issues should provide a starting point of key issues for consideration. Comments should be filed at the FMCSA website.

Current Major Issues with SMS:

1. Validity of Basics

There is no scientific validation to support that the SMS BASICs of UNSAFE DRIVING and FATIGUED DRIVING correlate to the liklihood of crashes based on the current methodology of capturing and calculating these BASICS and thus they should be modified accordingly.

2. Carrier Peer-grouping (Straight vs. Combination) Relative to the Unsafe Driving and Crash Basics

Due to fleet composition, household goods carriers are often placed in the straight truck category, which causes them to be grouped with much larger fleets that travel the majority of their miles in straight trucks over regular routes, which results in reduced exposure to roadside inspections. This is fundamentally unfair to those HHG carriers, because for various reasons the majority of their VMT’s are driven in combo units not straight trucks, notwithstanding their fleet composition. Seasonality and other factors relative to the typical HHG carrier business model, coupled with the inflexible reporting requirements of the FMCSA Form 150 census process, results in an unbalanced playing field to the disadvantage of typical HHG carriers. Potential solutions to this issue could include raising the straight truck peer group percentage cutoff and/or revising the FMCSA Form 150 census reporting process to better reflect the true nature of HHG carrier over the road operations and resulting crash risk. Perhaps a separate HHG carrier category would be the best solution, all things considered.

3. Stacking of Violations

Enforcement needs to be uniform and fair. Putting the same violation down repeatedly on an inspection because there is more than a single observation of the very same violation is unfair. If it is a violation, note it and move on. Noting multiple incidences of the same violation from the same cause, i.e. a loose wire, in patently unfair.

4. Flawed Enforcement and Adjudication of CSA Roadside Violations at the State Level/Lack of Due Process

Due to the varying policies and procedures at the state level, CSA roadside violations are not uniformly issued or adjudicated throughout the country. Individual carrier exposure to the legal and operational idiosyncrasies of particular states results in disproportionate and disparate outcomes within the CSA scoring methodology. One well-documented example of this concerns the Unsafe Driving BASIC and the grouping/ranking of carriers that operate in and around so-called “probable cause states” with carriers from other jurisdictions that issue substantially fewer speeding and other warnings/citations, etc.

5. DataQ Process Needs Major Overhaul

Currently the DataQ disputes are handled by the very officers who wrote the violations to begin with. If you dispute a violation and request a correction, the officer is basically admitting that he made a mistake. If the DataQ process is denied there is a limited recourse for the carrier. There should be an appeal process to FMCSA available for disputed violations.

So, please feel free to use any or all of these comments to make your own comments to FMCSA at their website, Regulations.gov and type in FMCSA-2012-0074 to reach the correct Docket to post your comments. Thank you for your help and involvement.