Fewer crashes, injuries and fatalities goal of data-driven CSA 2010

| 9/30/2009

Only about 2 percent of all motor carriers are currently audited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration each year. The logistics of limited manpower and plowing through mountains of paper have been a hurdle the agency has simply not been able to overcome.

FMCSA hopes that will all change next year when the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative – called CSA 2010 – goes live nationwide.

When CSA 2010 was unveiled to industry stakeholders at a listening session three years ago, then FMCSA Administrator John H. Hill said he hoped the aggressive new approach to compliance and enforcement would be a vital tool in reducing the number of fatalities in the large truck and bus industries.

The agency’s top priority is to reduce fatalities. For years fatalities have not necessarily increased, but they have not decreased either. That mere fact alone has been a driving force behind the development of CSA 2010.

In August 2004, FMCSA kicked off CSA 2010 with a comprehensive review and analysis of the agency’s existing compliance and enforcement programs. The goal of the program is to develop a new approach for FMCSA to identify drivers and carriers that pose safety problems and take steps to intervene and address those problems.

Currently, compliance reviews are targeted at the motor carrier and not the individual driver. FMCSA officials have said CSA 2010 will change that.

The CSA 2010 system is designed to:

  • Provide for an assessment of a greater portion of those regulated by FMCSA;
  • Analyze data related to specific safety areas of interest that are known to contribute to crashes;
  • Leverage modern technology to continuously evaluate and monitor compliance and safety performance; and
  • Apply progressive intervention to correct safety deficiencies before they become so ingrained that they cause a “significant breakdown” in the safety performance of a motor carrier.

The agency hopes to use data collected on carriers in seven different areas – dubbed BASICS which is short for Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories – that include unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, drugs and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo securement and crash experience. The data will be measured for the previous two years of roadside violation and crash data to calculate a safety score.

Several things could happen with that data.

Currently, carriers are assessed one of three fitness ratings: “satisfactory,” “conditional” and “unsatisfactory.” The CSA 2010 model proposes only two categories: “continue to operate” and “unfit.”

The plan also outlines a number of intervention steps that a carrier may encounter before a full-blown compliance review is conducted if data indicate a company’s behavior isn’t up to snuff.

The intervention steps include everything from a warning letter, targeted roadside inspections and an off-site review to a comprehensive on-site review.

Through the CSA 2010 project, a separate Driver Safety Measurement System has been developed and is being tested to identify individual drivers on a set of criteria across multiple employers.

The program is currently being tested in seven pilot states as FMCSA works out the kinks and prepares to issue a Final Rule in the Federal Register to officially implement the program. Nationwide rollout of the program is planned for the summer of 2010 and state-by-state rollouts to happen through the end of 2010.

– By Jami Jones,senior editor