It is illogical and a poor use of scarce enforcement resources to label carriers as unsafe based on crashes they didn’t cause, American Trucking Associations said in comments filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The March 25 filing urges FMCSA to change the safety measurement system at the heart of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program so that all crashes, regardless of blame, are not posted on the agency’s public website list of carriers.
ATA pointed out that five years ago the federation told FMCSA that including all crashes in the postings, regardless of responsibility, was a “serious shortcoming” of CSA.
ATA President Bill Graves said in a March 26 statement: “FMCSA’s failure to address this real flaw is especially egregious in light of its push to make CSA scores easier for the public to access and its encouragement that the public make decisions based on what they know to be faulty information.”
As an example of the kind of crashes that should not be posted in connection with a carrier on the website, ATA cited a March 20 fatal crash in which three police officers and a civilian were heading home from a strip club.
The officer driving the car sped the wrong way down a Staten Island highway — straight into a truck — killing one officer and the civilian and critically injuring himself and another officer.
Crashes such as this one, even when the truck driver is obviously not at fault, are posted on a carrier’s public record, which can now be accessed via a smartphone app supplied by FMCSA.
“Merely being struck by another motorist does not make one more likely to strike others,” ATA said.
The goal of CSA should be “to identify the predictive value of crashes in the same way the agency does with violations,” ATA added. “Crashes that a commercial motor vehicle driver did not cause are not indicative of the motor carrier’s propensity to cause a future crash.”
FMCSA only has the resources to audit 16,000 trucking companies (3% of the carrier population) annually, ATA said, so the agency ought to use its resources to identify and select carriers that cause crashes, not those struck by others.
“FMCSA already removes such crashes from consideration when assigning a company’s official safety rating after an audit but refuses to make a change to the publicly available CSA data intended to reflect safety performance,” ATA said.