CSA: Your new company safety 'credit report'

By Jami Jones, senior editor | 3/16/2010

With technology morphing the way we live our lives at warp speed, it’s no big surprise that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to go high-tech with its compliance enforcement.

Currently, the odds of being hit with any substantive on-site compliance review are somewhere between slim and none. Because of lack of staffing and the cumbersome nature of plowing through mountains of paperwork, each year FMCSA officials are only able to conduct compliance reviews on less than 2 percent of the motor carriers in the U.S.

Enter the technology knight on a white horse – CSA 2010. Back in 2004, FMCSA officials started developing a data-driven system of analyzing all inspection reports on motor carriers and drivers to identify trends of noncompliance.

The mega database system, with all of its algorithms and programs, will spit out monthly safety ratings for companies. Those who crop up with numerous violations – ranging from the not-so-serious to out-of-service – will pop up on FMCSA’s compliance radar.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a full-blown on-site compliance review. Depending on the severity of the rating, you could get anything from a letter telling you to straighten up your act to that dreaded on-site review that likens to an IRS audit.

Companies will have a chance to get their act together and report back to FMCSA to keep a good safety fitness rating. There will be three fitness rating in the 2010 program: “unfit,” “marginal” and “continue to operate.”

The overall concept is simple enough but, as with anything, the devil is in the details – and with CSA 2010, there are a ton of details.

The program can be broken down into the data, the math behind the number, enforcement, safety fitness determinations and the possible hiccups motor carriers could encounter along the way.

The following is the first in a series of articles that will explain the ins and outs of the new enforcement program bearing down on the trucking industry.

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