House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Questions CSA Data

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) system is ineffective at rating trucking firms and may be harming market participants that have strong operating histories, lawmakers stated recently.

At a hearing held by a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, Representative Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, stated that "while the old adage of 'garbage in, garbage out' does not completely apply here, there are questions about the reliability and integrity of the data," according to Bloomberg.

Lawmakers cited complaints from trucking companies when asserting that the scores generated by the FMCSA system are hurting trucking firms that have operated safely in the past, the news source reports.

CSA has been developed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) since 2004 so that the agency can more effectively identify the trucking firms that should be inspected. The DOT is coming under pressure from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) to change the data being included.

"FMCSA must acknowledge that the system does not accurately and reliably identify unsafe carriers," Scott Mugno, vice president of safety for FedEx Ground Package System Inc., who testified on behalf of the Arlington, Virginia-based trucking trade organization ATA, told the media outlet. The agency should prioritize focusing "on the least safe carriers, not merely those carriers that have compliance problems."

Mugno stated that the ATA "has been supportive of the objective of CSA – to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities – since the program’s inception," according to Commercial Carrier Journal. "However, ATA has significant concerns with the program in its current form."

The transportation executive pointed to less-than-ideal data that could hinder the efforts of FMCSA by not providing the agency with the information that it needs, the media outlet reports.

He said that the processes utilized to evaluate the safety of trucking firms could be problematic, as they consider all crashes against a carrier, regardless of whether the accident was preventable, according to the news source. He stated that ATA supports the program, but that FMCSA needs to make several changes to CSA.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro argued for the validity of the current system, stating that the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute has "validated" the CSA data and ratings, the media outlet reports.

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