Now that the much dreaded CSA 2010 has officially arrived it’s time to look at the initial impact it has created for the transportation industry. Originally known as the Comprehensive Safety Analysis, it has since been renamed to much simpler sounding Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. By now, everyone involved in our industry knows the basic facts. The CSA, administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), replaces previously used Safe Stat system. There are two major changes that this program brings. First, there are now 7 categories in which safety violations can fall under, as opposed to 4.
|SafeStat Categories||(NEW )CSA Categories|
– Safety Management
|– Unsafe Driving
– Fatigued Driving
– Driver Fitness
– Controlled Substances/Alcohol
– Vehicle Maintenance
– Cargo Related
– Crash Indicator
The previous categories were deemed too broad and only looked at roadside violations that resulted in out-of-service orders. The other major change that comes with the CSA is that it has two distinct safety measurement systems: one for individual carriers and one for individual commercial motor vehicle drivers. What does this mean? Motor Carriers are held accountable for their drivers’ errors, and vice versa. Drivers are now held accountable for their record and everyone will be assigned their own personal safety rating. All the profiles are compiled from the FMCSA Driver Information Resource and will be available to carriers through the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). When a driver leaves a carrier company, his record remains with him for two years and new hiring companies can pull that record up. What happens when you have a bad rating? That is at the discretion of the company but you can come to expect it being much more challenging to find employment since you will be deemed a risk and ‘unfit’ for driving. How is the transportation industry reacting to this new government measure?
In September 2010, three industry groups consisting of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC), The Expedite Alliance of North America (TEANA) and the Air & Expedited Motor Carriers Association (AEMCA) filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block or delay the CSA citing “the disclosure of the percentile rankings within the Behaviour Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and use of terms characterizing those rankings amount to a public branding of carriers as less than safe”. Unfortunately for the group, the federal appeals court denied the suit and CSA officially rolled out in 2011. Now that this has become a fact of reality, the transportation industry must do its best to embrace the initiative and learn how to work it to their advantage. The FMCSA updates everybody’s ratings on a monthly basis and anyone’s score can be pulled up on the website, http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov. For companies that are in compliance with these new measures, it is a great tool in two regards, for recruiting new drivers and attracting new clients. Companies can gain the confidence of their two most important assets when they comply with these rather thorough government regulations. What about the great fear that everyone in the industry has been feeling?
That this will become a bureaucratic nightmare and misunderstanding will plague everyone involved, further resulting in a tougher marketplace and driver shortages? Relax, despite a gradual roll out of this program that took almost 2 years to implement, several pilot projects in selected states and a declaration by the FMCSA that these violations will be retroactive 24 months from the day the CSA was officially implemented, currently less than 12% of active motor carriers are ranked in any of the categories and only 6% have at least one alert. There are measures in place that protect the industry.
The US Department of Transportation offers Safety Improvement Resources (SIRs) to assist carriers with improving their current safety management practices. There is also the DataQ system that allows carriers and drivers to review and challenge erroneous violations. Remember, no matter your violations under this system, it does not give the FMCSA authority to revoke a commercial driver’s license. Only State agencies have had and will continue to hold that power. Furthermore, with monthly updates and only a 3 year track record in the database, no mere violation or two will result in a death sentence. Life comes and goes, even in the trucking industry. It is the nature of man to resist change, but when change comes in the name of modernization and improvement we should embrace it. The Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is here to stay, whether you like it or not the best thing to do is comply, continue practicing safety, and hold each other accountable to the highest standard.