Since its emergence in 2010, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) CSA program has been both important and controversial for carriers, shippers and fleet operators alike. The CSA program has long teetered between conceptual support and heavy practical criticism. While the program’s objectives and safety potential remain points of solidarity throughout the industry, the ways in which scores are developed and used are a strong point of tension. After a series of research-based revisions in 2012, the CSA continues to strive for improvement. In 2014, the results of court rulings on carrier challenges of roadside inspection citations were added to the CSA database, while improvements to the CSA website are continually being planned. Yet there are a number of impactful issues to be addressed in 2015. Topics of interest include steps to simplify the CSA safety measurement system and crash accountability. Changes to safety fitness determinations are also on the sounding board as the year moves into full swing.
The CSA was designed as a “performance-based, data-driven safety enforcement program,” to track driver and carrier company performance data. CSA collects data annually from an estimated 100,000 crash reports and 3.5 million roadside inspections, ideally using this data to statistically predict and prevent future crash risks and unsafe behaviors. Acting as an initiative to help FMCSA research and efficiently enforce regulations, CSA aims to reduce commercial vehicle accidents and injuries. The program is intended to sweep up as many as 150,000 of the estimated 3 million long-haul truck drivers whose repetitive dangerous behaviors make them risk prone for accidents and fatalities.