Serious Flaws In CSA Will Delay Improvements To Highway Safety
Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, OOIDA, provided comments to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee which held a hearing reviewing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s enforcement and compliance program. The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is under scrutiny for its serious fundamental flaws that ignore safety as a true goal and because of its apparent bias against small-trucking companies.
“Instead of having all motor carriers strive for a perfect safety rating, this system has them all competing with each other for the highest ranking within peer groups. This belies the idea that the system’s objective is really about safety,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA.
The Association has contended that the CSA scoring system is prejudicial, arbitrary and disproportionately punishes small businesses. The system does not have a way for a carrier to have any ranking at all until a violation is cited by way of an inspection. This lack of a ranking for smaller carriers due to lack of exposure, or inspections, or simply by having only perfect clean inspections means they are overlooked by brokers or shippers, even if a particular carrier is actually a safe operator with a perfect safety record.
“A carrier is only as good as the next guy and in order to succeed, you must first fail – only fail less than everyone else in the same safety grouping,” said Spencer. “Because 90 percent of trucking is made up of small businesses, then this has serious implications on truly knowing who is a safe carrier.”
Also, the public availability of scores contradicts the self-help objective of the program, again begging the question whether safety is the priority. Carriers are meant to make improvements to their operations based on scores.
“FMCSA needs to show their program actually can identify carriers that are really unsafe as opposed to just running up numbers on the ‘alphabet soup’ of regulations they have on their books. The system operates from the premise that every trucker is the bad guy and this is a flawed approach for creating legitimate safety statistics or improving safety,” Spencer said.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 150,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo., area.