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11 proposed changes to the FMCSA Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program

November 8, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Here’s my take on  proposed CSA changes, some good and some bad, to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety program.   These changes will likely go into effect this December.

Advocates for highway and auto safety and other safety groups seem to be on board with most of these changes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the FMCSA terminology and safety programs, let me quickly try and boil it down:

FMCSA: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency that’s responsible for the issuance, administration and enforcement safety regulations for commercial motor vehicles across the U.S.

CSA: CSA stands for Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), which is an FMCSA program to improve large truck and bus safety and reduce truck accidents. The program is designed to addresses safety problems before crashes occur by allowing the FMSCA to contact the motor carriers.

SMS: THE FMCSA has a Safety Measurement System (SMS) that uses a motor carrier’s data to quantify the safety performance of motor carriers and drivers. It also determines and monitors safety problems.

BASIC:  The Safety Measurement System (SMS) uses a motor carrier’s data from roadside inspections quantify performance in the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

Here are the 11 proposed changes to the FMSCA’s CSA program:

  1. Load securement violations will move from the cargo-related BASIC to Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. This is based on carrier complaints that flatbed trailers had much higher cargo-related BASIC percentile ratings since load securement issues are more visible and not fairly compared to closed-contained trailers.
  2. The cargo-related BASIC will now be the hazardous materials (HM) BASIC. The HM BASIC will include regulation violations related to packaging, transporting, identifying and communicating hazardous cargo in the event of a crash or spill.
  3. The FMCSA will remove vehicle violations from driver-only inspections and driver violations from vehicle only inspections. This affects 139,000, or about 2.6% of all vehicle violations.
  4. SMS will now include violations of Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP) regulations. The IEPs that should be identified during a driver’s pre-trip inspection.
  5. SMS display will separate crashes with injuries from crashes with fatalities.
  6. The FMCSA will remove speeding violations from 1 to 5 mp. This is consistent with 49 CFR 393.82 which requires speedometers to be accurate within 5mph.
  7. The FMCSA will lower the severity rating for general speeding violations to 1.
  8. The FMCSA will now give equal weight to paper log and electronic logbooks.
  9. The fatigued driving BASIC will change names to the HOS Compliance BASIC, which stands for Hours of Service BASIC. We believe this is a bad change that will cause more truck accidents.
  10. The FMCSA will attempt to more accurately passenger carriers in order to place a safety priority on passenger transport.
  11. The FMCSA will attempt to more accurately identify carriers of hazardous materials.

– Steve Gursten is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and he was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information:

FMCSA eliminating registrant DOT numbers

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