FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system for evaluating carrier safety has long been criticized by the trucking industry. Trucking points out that CSA does not distinguish between accidents in which the truck or truck driver is to blame and accidents in which the truck clearly was not at fault. Accidents factor into CSA's Crash Indicator BASIC, a calculation which ranks carriers based on their propensity for accidents.
Following the release of a study in January, FMCSA claimed that incorporating crash accountability into CSA scores would not improve the DOT's ability to target for intervention carriers most at risk for crashes, nor would it be easy to implement or cost-effective.
"It is not lost on the trucking industry that the word 'Accountability' is in the title of CSA, yet FMCSA continues to ignore crash accountability," said American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki.
“Analysis using all crashes shows that incorporating crash weighting determinations does not consistently improve the Crash Indicator when the various weighting approaches are applied,” the study concludes,
And because the process for determining crash weighting — receiving accident reports from police, analyzing and making crash fault determination, weighting the crash appropriately and then going through an appeals process — would be so lengthy, incorporating crash fault into SMS rankings may be a moot point, the agency says, as SMS rankings only use crashes from the preceding two-year period.
The agency’s report also says incorporating crash accountability into CSA would cost between $3.9 million and $11.1 million each year, depending on how many accidents are reviewed, the appeals brought and the agency’s final process for determining crash weighting.