Tank truck carriers prepare for the arrival of Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010

Jan. 1, 2010
MEMBERS of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc (NTTC), as well as the rest of the trucking industry, are bracing for the nationwide launch of Comprehensive

MEMBERS of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc (NTTC), as well as the rest of the trucking industry, are bracing for the nationwide launch of Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) in July.

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative, CSA 2010 is designed to improve large-truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce commercial motor vehicle-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The program will bring major changes in the way fleet safety is monitored.

“Does anybody fully understand CSA 2010?” NTTC Safety Council chairman Neil Voohrees asked of the attendees at the NTTC Fall Safety Meeting in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in October 2009.

That drew some muffled laughter, so Voohrees, Groendyke Transport's Steve Niswander, and others spent the rest of the 30-minute session hashing out various aspects of the initiative.

“Take this very seriously,” Voohrees said.

The initiative introduces a new enforcement and compliance model that allows FMCSA and its state partners to contact a larger number of carriers earlier in order to address safety problems before crashes occur. When the program is fully rolled out by the end of 2010, FMCSA believes it will have a new nationwide system for making the roads safer for motor carriers and the public.

This new CSA 2010 operational model has three major components: measurement, evaluation, and implementation.

CSA 2010 measures safety performance in new ways, using inspection and crash results to identify carriers whose behaviors could reasonably lead to crashes. When FMCSA rolls out CSA 2010, the Safety Measurement System (SMS) will replace SafeStat. Every month, SMS will measure the previous two years of roadside violation and crash data and calculate a score in seven safety behavior areas, called BASICs (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories).

  • Unsafe Driving

    Dangerous or careless operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). Data includes driver traffic violations and convictions for speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, inattention, and other unsafe driving behavior. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 397.)

  • Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service)

    Driving a CMV when fatigued. This is distinguished from incidents where unconsciousness or an inability to react is brought about by the use of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances. Data includes hours-of-service violations discovered during an off-site investigation, on-site investigation, roadside inspection, or post-crash inspection; and crash reports with driver fatigue as a contributing factor. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 395.)

  • Driver Fitness

    Operation of a CMV by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualification. Data includes inspection violations for failure to have a valid and appropriate commercial driver's license or medical or training documentation; crash reports citing a lack of experience or medical reason as a cause or contributory factor; and violations from an off-site investigation or an on-site investigation for failure to maintain proper driver qualification files, or use of unqualified drivers. (FMCSR Parts 383 and 391.)

  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol

    Operation of a CMV while impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription medications or over-the-counter medications. Data includes roadside violations involving controlled substances or alcohol; crash reports citing driver impairment or intoxication as a cause; positive drug or alcohol test results on drivers; and lack of appropriate testing or other deficiencies in motor carrier controlled substances and alcohol testing programs. (FMCSR Part 392.)

  • Vehicle Maintenance

    CMV failure due to improper or inadequate maintenance. Data includes roadside violations for brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects; crash reports citing a mechanical failure as a contributing factor; and violations from an off-site investigation or an on-site investigation associated with pre-trip inspections, maintenance records, and repair records. (FMCSR Parts 393 and 396.)

  • Cargo Related

    Shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and unsafe handling of hazardous materials. Data includes roadside inspection violations pertaining to load securement, cargo retention, and hazardous material handling; and crash reports citing shifting loads, or spilled/dropped cargo as a cause or contributing factor. (FMCSR Parts 392, 393, 397, and HM Violations.)

  • Crash Indicator

    Histories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity. Data includes law enforcement crash reports and crashes reported by the carrier and discovered during on-site investigations.

Recent roadside violations and violations that correlate most with crashes will be weighted more heavily than other violations. SMS will then rank carrier scores relative to their peers to determine which entities have specific safety problems.

“The good part is, it's safer,” Niswander said. “Nobody can figure out now how they get the ISSD numbers or how they manufacture numbers. But shippers get hold of those and send you a contract and say, ‘I want to know what your ISSD number is and safety analysis number is.’ And it says plainly on the information from the federal motor carrier, ‘It's not accurate. Don't use it.’ But what does the shipper do? ‘Chuck's a bad guy. He got 92 on SSD.’ Does it mean anything? Not necessarily.

“This will take that away. You will be compared to your peers. They won't compare Neil to FedEx. Say you got a 150 on drug and alcohol, and they are going to send you a letter and say, ‘Hey, you've got a problem.’ You have maybe 60 days to come back to them and for the company to correct the problem. It's going to be scoped to just that period.”

In terms of evaluation, FMCSA believes that CSA 2010 helps it and its state partners to correct high-risk behavior by contacting more carriers and drivers, with interventions tailored to their specific safety problem, as well as a new safety fitness determination methodology.

Safety evaluation is the process of determining how to address carriers with poor safety performance. SMS allows FMCSA to more effectively evaluate safety performance using new measures for: identifying which carriers require what type of intervention using a policy-driven process called intervention selection; and determining which carriers should be proposed “unfit” to operate, using a regulatory process called Safety Fitness Determination (SFD). An Unfit Suspension will prohibit a carrier from operating, based on the conclusion of a SFD.

FMCSA is developing a Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) methodology, subject to ongoing rulemaking, to replace the current system, which is solely dependent on the onsite compliance review results. The SFD will expand the use of on-road performance as calculated in the SMS and include results of all investigations. It will also allow FMCSA to determine safety fitness on a larger segment of the industry.

In terms of intervention, CSA 2010 covers the full spectrum of safety issues — from how data is collected, evaluated, and shared to how enforcement officials can intervene most effectively and efficiently to improve safety on our roads.

FMCSA and state partners will use measurement results to identify carriers for CSA 2010 interventions. These interventions will offer an expanded suite of tools ranging from warning letters to comprehensive on-site investigations that supplement the labor-intensive compliance review to better address the specific safety problems identified.

CSA 2010 investigators will be equipped to systematically evaluate why safety problems are occurring, to recommend remedies, to encourage corrective action(s), and, where corrective action is inadequate, to invoke strong penalties. Interventions will provide carriers with the information necessary to understand their safety problems and to change unsafe behavior early on. Interventions under CSA 2010 can be broken into three basic categories: early contact, investigation and follow-on.

Early Contact:

  • Warning Letter

    Correspondence sent to a carrier's place of business that specifically identifies a deficient BASIC(s) and outlines possible consequences of continued safety problems. The warning letter provides instructions for accessing carrier safety data and measurement as well as a point of contact.

  • Carrier Access to Safety Data and Measurement

    Carriers have access to their measurement results (BASICs scores), as well as the inspection reports and violations that went into those results. With this information, carriers can chart a course of self-improvement. Carriers can also monitor this data for accuracy and challenge it as necessary through FMCSA's DataQs system: https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov/login.asp.

    “They're going to do over 200,000 ratings per year,” Voohrees said. “They can do a rating just on one driver. Drivers can look at our organization to see if we're safer, and we supposedly we can look at drivers we're going to hire to see where they fall. I'm going to put a full-time person on this just to watch our reports, because I'm concerned that if anything appears and we don't capture it and fight it immediately, we're going to be in trouble.”

  • Targeted Roadside Inspection

    CSA 2010 provides roadside inspectors with data that identifies a carrier's specific safety problems, by BASIC, based on the new measurement system. Targeted roadside inspections occur at permanent and temporary roadside inspection locations where connectivity to the SMS information is available. As Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) technologies evolve they will be incorporated into the roadside inspections.


  • Off-site Investigation

    A carrier is required to submit documents to FMCSA or a State partner. These documents are used to evaluate the safety problems identified through the SMS and to determine their root causes. Types of documents requested may include third party documents such as toll receipts, border crossing records, or drug testing records. The goal is to identify issues responsible for poor safety performance. If the carrier does not submit requested documents they may be subject to an on-site investigation or to subpoena records.

  • On-site Focused Investigation

    The purpose of this intervention is to evaluate the safety problems identified through the SMS and their root causes. An on-site focused investigation may be selected when deficiencies in two or less BASICs exist. “Focused” on-site investigations target specific problem areas (for example, maintenance records), while “comprehensive” on-site investigations address all aspects of the carrier's operation.

  • On-site Comprehensive Investigation

    This intervention is similar to a CR and takes place at the carrier's place of business. It is used when the carrier exhibits broad and complex safety problems through continually deficient BASICs, worsening multiple BASICs (three or more), or a fatal crash or complaint.


  • Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP): Implemented by the carrier, this safety improvement plan is voluntary. The carrier and FMCSA collaboratively create a plan, based on a standard template, to address the underlying problems resulting from the carrier's substandard safety performance.

  • Notice of Violation (NOV): The NOV is a formal notice of safety deficiencies that requires a response from the carrier. It is used when the regulatory violations discovered are severe enough to warrant formal action but not a civil penalty (fine). It is also used in cases where the violation is immediately correctable and the level of, or desire for, cooperation is high. To avoid further intervention, including fines, the carrier must provide evidence of corrective action or initiate a successful challenge to the violation.

  • Notice of Claim (NOC). An NOC is issued in cases where the regulatory violations are severe enough to warrant assessment and issuance of civil penalties.

  • Settlement Agreement. A Settlement Agreement is a contract negotiated with the carrier to enact remedies that address the root cause of a safety problem, defer or reduce penalties, or terminate enforcement proceedings.

CSA 2010 mandates proactive and progressive interventions for carriers and drivers that have been identified with safety deficiencies. CSA 2010 interventions are unique tools designed to communicate, investigate, and correct carrier safety performance problems before crashes occur. The interventions increase in severity and degree of interaction based on the risk posed by the carrier. FMCSA and its state partners will use CSA 2010 interventions to maintain a strong enforcement presence by more effectively targeting motor carrier safety deficiencies soon after those problems are identified.

“One of my biggest fears is the consistency of actual inspections,” Voohrees said. “One trooper can look at it differently than another. We really have to work on consistency. We have to train law enforcement. I recommend we start doing it now by offering classes to come into our facilities and see it the way we see it. Let them use your equipment and train them.”

Niswander: “It's not that we have a problem with state troopers. It's the people who have CVSA authority all of a sudden to do roadside inspections, and the things they write up under the auspices of local law. CSA is going to have strictly those things that come from roadside inspections or accidents or violations that have been identified from roadside inspections. So if your guy is going down road and the trooper gives him a ticket but doesn't write it up on the roadside inspection, you'll never know it.”

“If you have on your contract that you can lose your business because you're not satisfactory rated, you put yourself and the shipper in a bind. Because if that rating changes overnight and that shipper gives it to you, that shipper now has liability. And they didn't even know it. You need to talk with your people and get that phraseology out of your contracts. That ability to stay satisfactory or fit — if that thing changes overnight and you have a massive accident, and the plaintiff's attorney pulls that out, the shipper and you are in trouble.”

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.