FMCSA should restrict CSA scores access, coalition says

Aug. 26, 2014

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, an American Trucking Associations-led coalition of transportation trade groups urged that the scores produced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability fleet monitoring system be removed from the agency’s website, citing recent government research that found the scores unreliable.

“Given the results of this research we urge you to direct FMCSA to remove motor property and passenger carriers’ CSA Safety Measurement System scores from public view,” wrote ATA President Bill Graves and representatives of nine other industry groups. “Also, recognizing the merits of raising public awareness of fleets’ true safety performance in the future, we also call on you to direct FMCSA to make CSA improvements a high priority.”

Specifically, the letter cites research by the Government Accountability Office that found that, with respect to most motor carriers, “FMCSA lacks sufficient safety performance information to reliably compare them with other carriers. The report went on to say that the lack of data “creates the likelihood that many SMS scores do not represent an accurate or precise safety assessment for a carrier.”

“Given the many identified data sufficiency and reliability issues outlined by the Government Accountability Office, we urge you to direct FMCSA to remove carriers’ SMS scores from public view,” the letter concludes. “Doing so will not only spare motor carriers harm from erroneous scores, but will also reduce the possibility that the marketplace will drive business to potentially risky carriers that are erroneously being painted as more safe.”

Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), said: “Our Association and our members place a high priority on highway safety. Having accurate, relevant and up-to-date information is paramount to knowing the true condition of a carrier and making any conclusions about its safety, good or bad. Unfortunately, CSA does not meet that standard.
“Because businesses make decisions based upon published scores of a motor carrier’s safety rating, it is vital that such information be correct,” said Spencer. “The unintended consequences can be detrimental to a business or to public safety. Further, CSA was developed as a tool for enforcement agencies, and nothing in our request changes their access to information about carriers.”

In addition to ATA and O-OIDA, the letter was signed by representatives of the American Bus Association, American Moving and Storage Association, the National Private Truck Council, National School Transportation Association, the National Tank Truck Carriers, Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, Truckload Carriers Association, and United Motorcoach Association.