Around three weeks ago, 10 different trucking organizations (e.g., groups like the American Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) got together and sent a joint request in a formal letter to the Department of Transportation.’
Why? What’s up with this meeting of the minds of the big trucking interests here in taking the time and energy to hammer out a united correspondence to the Federal Government? Well, it’s not a big surprise to learn that it’s about federal regulations of truck drivers.
Specifically, all these trucking groups are asking for the same thing: they want the federal government to stop sharing with the general public all the CSA scores. The CSA, as you’ll recall if you follow our blog, is the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (”CSA”) program overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It’s been changed a lot in the past few years, and the CSA scores are tallies of how carriers are assessed by the feds according to the program’s requirements.
The Trucking Letter Argues That the CSA Scores Aren’t Reliable Regarding How Safe a Carrier May Be
The letter argues that the public shouldn’t see these CSA scores. They are asking that the CSA public scores be made NON-PUBLIC.
So you and I cannot see them.
Why? They argue that the CSA scores don’t jive with how safe (or dangerous) a carrier may be, but the general public might assume that this is true.
They back up their argument with a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which states FMCSA “… lacks sufficient safety performance information to reliably compare them with other carriers,” and that the current CSA system is biased against small carriers.
Though accurate safety measurement scores can have numerous positive impacts, as discussed above, inaccurate scores, like those assigned to carriers by the CSA SMS, have detrimental and counterproductive consequences. Naturally, scores that erroneously paint otherwise safe and responsible carriers as more likely to be involved in a crash are harmful to those operations.
But since scores are based on comparative performance, carriers that actually have a pattern of crash involvement or of committing violations that correlate to crash involvement may subsequently be portrayed as having better performance. Of course, suggesting that such carriers are actually safer, by comparison, will have the unintended effect of driving either passengers or freight to them and is poor public policy.
Given the many identified data sufficiency and reliability issues outlined by the Government Accountability Office, we urge you to direct FMCSA to remove carrier’s SMS scores from public view. 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.
What will the federal government do here? We’ll see.
Should the CSA scores NOT be available for you and I to see?