Wheels of Justice
FMCSA rebukes ATA requests to improve CSA 2010
Things are hot and getting hotter between Anne Ferro, administrator of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and David Osiecki, senior vice president for Policy and Regulatory Af-fairs of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Here is the setting: ATA sends letter to FMCSA explaining a number of concerns and offering solutions to specific parts of the new CSA 2010. FMCSA sends letter back to ATA thanking them for their concerns and solutions, but reminding them who makes the laws.
ATA’s largest concern is “lack of crash accountability determination prior to the data being entered and used in the program.” The CSA 2010 considers all DOT-defined crashes, whether at fault or not, which makes the carrier with two crashes determined to be “not their fault” as dangerous as a carrier with two crashes that resulted in a crash.
ATA’s solution is a single contractor with a small, well-trained “crash evaluation team” to determine crash accountability and place proper blame on the carrier causing the crash to determine carriers for DOT intervention.
FMCSA acknowledged the concern and noted that they are considering several short-term and longer-term approaches. While working to improve the CSA 2010, they will exclude the crash assessment from any public Web site that may be viewed by shippers or insurers. Additionally, FMCSA will continue to consider accountability of crashes before issuing any formal and final adverse safety fitness ratings that follow compliance reviews.
ATA’s next concern is the use of each carrier’s truck count as the measure of risk exposure, rather than the total number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) each year. The thinking is that carriers with a greater number of power units are at a disadvantage because of their increased exposure to adverse safety events.
FMCSA responded that the use of power units as the sole measure of exposure can create a disadvantage for carriers with larger power units, but can be a disadvantage to carriers that operate limited mileage due to the nature of their operations. Consequently, as suggested by ATA, the FMCSA will make the vehicle mileage field of the MCS-150 mandatory for updates. These efforts will make the CSA 2010 more effective and equitable with the national deployment of the Safety Measurement System.
Thanks to the exchanges of Mr. Osiecki and Ms. Ferro, carriers and drivers have a better knowledge of what to expect this month when the new regulations take effect. I expect there to be further negotiations between ATA and FMCSA to keep making the CSA 2010 fairer and a better tool for trucking.
Jim C. Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker Ltd., an organization that provides legal defense protection to commercial drivers. Jim is a lawyer who focuses on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking, and he holds his Commercial Drivers License.