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GAO Urges Revisions to CSA's Safety Measurement System

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report said the federal government should revise part of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program because of limits on access to needed data.

The Feb. 3 GAO report said the Safety Measurement System, a key part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA, faces challenges because “most regulations used to calculate SMS scores are not violated often enough to strongly associate them with crash risk for individual carriers.”

GAO, a congressional investigative agency, also said “most carriers lack sufficient safety performance data to ensure that FMCSA can reliably compare them with other carriers.”

American Trucking Associations praised GAO’s findings and urged FMCSA to make changes to the program.

“The GAO’s review of FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program was comprehensive, thoughtful and balanced,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement. “While ATA has long supported CSA’s objectives, we can’t help but agree with GAO’s findings that the scores produced by the program don’t present an accurate or precise assessment of the safety of many carriers.”

ATA asked FMCSA to remove all carriers’ scores from public view in light of GAO’s review.

FMCSA designed the CSA program to collect data from safety inspections and then produce assessments of carrier and driver safety performance, both on an absolute basis and relative to similar carriers and drivers. A premise of CSA is that the SMS scores would be useful in predicting which carriers and drivers are likely to be involved in accidents.

FMCSA defended the CSA program, but said it will consider GAO’s proposals.

"While we are always looking for ways to improve our safety oversight methods, and will carefully consider the GAO’s latest recommendations, research shows that CSA is already more effective at identifying motor carriers with a greater risk of crashing than the system we replaced in 2010,” spokeswoman Marissa Padilla said.

The Transportation Department’s inspector general also is analyzing this issue.

Original story from Transport Topics found here.

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