Young & McCarthy LLP

FMCSA announces CSA revision plan

Trucking companies in Ohio and around the country have long been critical of the Compliance, Safety and Accountability initiative from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Congress ordered the government watchdog to improve the program in 2015 by passing the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. Legislators took action after trade groups said that the CSA relied on shoddy data and alarmed members of the public with unfair and misleading safety scores.

The FMCSA proposed a series of CSA reforms in 2015, but a report published by the federal agency on July 4 suggests that this strategy has now been abandoned in favor of proposals made by the National Academies of Science. According to the report, the FMCSA will now focus on developing a new and fairer scoring system, seek to improve the quality of the data that's used to generate these scores and make the whole process easier to understand for both carriers and the public.

The NAS proposals, which were originally published in June 2017, are based on item response theory. The FMCSA may have warmed to IRT as this approach accounts for data variables and allows at-risk carriers to be identified more quickly. In the report, the FMCSA vows to improve the data used to generate CSA safety scores by working closely with both states and industry groups to gather more accurate information about the number of miles traveled by commercial vehicles and the collisions in which they are involved.

The CSA program is designed to ensure that commercial vehicles are safe and properly maintained, and the kind of data used to generate safety scores could also be used by experienced personal injury attorneys pursuing compensation on behalf of truck accident victims. Evidence revealing that carriers have had regulatory problems in the past or that hours of service rules were routinely ignored could be used by lawyers to encourage the defendants in truck accident lawsuits to settle quickly.

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