The scoring system used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety system in attempts of identifying at-risk motor carriers is now under attack in Congress. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., introduced the Safer Trucks and Buses Act, which calls on the agency to “revamp” CSA.
The Compliance Safety Accountability program was rolled out through 2010. Over time criticism has built over the rankings companies receive, how the agency arrives at those rankings, and the business repercussions of the rankings.
Barletta’s legislation addresses a problem with CSA, which was rushed into usage and often does not reflect changes made by carriers to improve their approaches to safety, according to a press release on the bill.
“As a father of four daughters, I worry every day about the safety of my girls, and I strongly believe that unsafe vehicles should not be on the road,” Barletta said in the press release. “Unfortunately, companies across the country and in Pennsylvania are being unfairly misrepresented by their safety scores, causing economically devastating impacts to these bus and truck companies, many of which are small businesses.”
Barletta recounted the situation a company in his home district in Pennsylvania is in because of the “inaccurate system.” The company has never had an accident. It employed two drivers with an average of 35 years of experience. One of the drivers received a couple of minor traffic violations and was dismissed by the company.
But the CSA implications lingered.
“Their score suffered because of it. The driver now works for a different employer who has a higher safety score, and they can obtain contracts for which the original company cannot compete,” Barletta told “Land Line Now.”
“The situation costs the company here approximately $1.5 million in lost revenue, which will force it to reduce its fleet by half and eliminate jobs. It’s putting companies at an unfair disadvantage.”
The legislation requires FMCSA to stop publishing safety scores compiled under the current system on its website and prevents these scores from being used as evidence in liability cases until the program is fixed. In the meantime, the bill requires FMCSA to submit to Congress an improvement plan and implement that improvement plan. Once the scores are improved, they will again be available for the public to make educated decisions about the safety of trucks and buses.
Barletta’s bill follows a letter written by a coalition of 10 different truck and bus associations, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association calling for the agency to cease public display of the CSA rankings.
Barletta’s press release on the introduction of the bill had various groups showing their support for and praising Barletta’s bill.
“With significant shortcomings in the methodology used to generate CSA scores, as found by independent examinations, businesses that rely on the data to make safety decisions are just as likely to be directed to a less safe carrier as to a more safe carrier,” said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
“Misleading information about the safety of individual motor carriers not only leads to negative impacts on small business trucking companies, but it also can mean unintended public safety consequences. OOIDA appreciates Rep. Barletta’s leadership toward setting clear standards for accuracy in CSA’s methodology and data, and we urge all supporters of small-business truckers and highway safety to support his legislation.”
Other groups supporting Barletta’s bill include the American Trucking Associations, Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, National Association of Small Trucking Companies and the Pennsylvania Bus Association.
“Land Line Now” News Anchor Reed Black contributed to this report.
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