Federal Agency Uses Controversial System for Crash Accountability

Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 5-Oct-2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently uses its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to gather and track data on commercial truck crashes. Trucking advocacy groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) believe the CSA system is unfair because it includes data on drivers who were involved in accidents, but were not at fault for those collisions. The main point of controversy is whether the CSA program helps the FMCSA hold the right carriers and drivers accountable, with the goal of preventing truck accidents and improving road safety.

CSA Program and Objections by Carriers

The goal of the CSA program is to increase accountability and road safety through FMCSA enforcement and compliance initiatives. The CSA program rates a carrier’s safety performance partly on the accidents its trucks are involved in, regardless of who was at fault.

Trucking advocacy groups question the fairness of the system, particularly the crash indicator score, because it does not include factors like mileage driven or road difficulty. It also does not weight data on accountability due to fault, and can trigger enforcement actions like fines. The FMCSA claims the CSA program’s crash data provide reliable indicators about future driving performance.

Earlier this year, the FMCSA announced that it would stop efforts to study and revise its CSA program. This move frustrated the trucking community. The ATA continues to challenge the FMCSA to take action and change CSA system measurements. In addition, the ATA renewed its previously rejected request for the FMCSA to release a 2009 study about possibly including police reports in its crash accountability calculations.

Response to FMCSA

The FMCSA response has been mixed. The agency has acknowledged that non-preventable crashes should be weighted differently and begun work on accounting for fault within the CSA system, even creating a plan to implement an appeals process. In 2010, however, the FMCSA refused to share the findings of the study on using police reports to help measure crash accountability because the findings were still preliminary. In March of this year, the FMCSA also backed away from requesting comments on its new plans for the CSA program.

According to the Agency Administrator of the FMCSA, the agency needs further information on how best to identify the riskiest carriers before proceeding with a comment period or implementing any changes.

The victims of truck crashes, however, don’t care how such accidents are tabulated by a government agency. They just want the parties responsible to be held accountable and to be fully compensated for the injuries they suffered. If you were involved in a truck accident an experienced attorney can provide advice and guidance about any potential claims.

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