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Comments Flood In on CSA Changes

(Aug. 9, 2012) – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is receiving vigorous comment from carriers over  plans to make changes to several safety performance categories within the CSA safety enforcement program.

The request for comments is part of an effort by the agency to address industry concerns about CSA and potential flaws in the system.

According to Heavy Duty Trucking magazine, the agency plans to move cargo and load-securement violations out of the Cargo-Related category into the Vehicle Maintenance category. It also wants to change Cargo-Related to a new category, Hazardous Materials.

As well, the agency recently asked its industry advisory board – the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee – to appoint a subcommittee to provide ideas and recommendations to improve CSA. The subcommittee will hold its first meeting on August 28.

In its comments, the American Trucking Associations said it wants more details on the data and analysis the agency uses to develop changes, adding that more openness would help generate better informed comments, and stave off skepticism about CSA.

While the ATA supports moving cargo and load-securement violations into the Vehicle Maintenance category and the creation of a separate HazMat category, it said the method for determining performance in that category needs to be improved.

Several trucking companies echoed such concerns about the HazMat change as a result of inconsistencies in the preview scores and suggested the HazMat category should not be made public until the agency can confirm that it is accurate.

Other companies noted that FMCSA needs to be more mindful that CSA has become a measuring system that shippers are using to rate and select carriers. “Customers are asking for published and non-published scores. Carriers and brokers are concerned about brokering freight to carriers with high CSA scores. We cannot use a ‘work in progress’ as an industry measurement tool,” commented Landstar Systems.

The industry lacks confidence in CSA because it has been through so many changes, the company said adding that the system should not be made public until the flaws are fixed.

Steven Bryan, CEO of the CSA services provider Vigillo, said carriers with high scores in the new HazMat category have low scores in other categories. “Yet this new, publicly available (category) will become the focus of brokers, shippers, drivers, plaintiffs and law enforcement as equivalent to (categories) with true safety backbone,” the company said.