A bill introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives would suppress the safety scores on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability website and require that the program be changed to better reflect carrier safety and crash risk. The bill, dubbed the Safer Trucks and Buses Act, is the work of Rep. Lou Bartletta, of Pennsylvania.
“As a father of four daughters, I worry every day about the safety of my girls, and I strongly believe that unsafe vehicles should not be on the road,” said Barletta in a press release. “Unfortunately, companies across the country and in Pennsylvania are being unfairly misrepresented by their safety scores, causing economically devastating impacts to these bus and truck companies, many of which are small businesses.”
The bill would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to remove safety scores from the CSA website. It would also bar any such previously published scores from being used as evidence in liability lawsuits. FMCSA would then be required to create an improvement plan, submit it to Congress and implement it. Safety scores could be republished once they had been adjusted under the improvement plan.
Part of Barletta’s inspiration comes from a carrier in his own state, which has suffered serious consequences due to its Safety Measurement System score on the CSA website. The small company employed two drivers with an average 35 years experience. Neither had ever had an accident. When one of the drivers had a couple of minor traffic violations, he was dismissed.
Despite the company taking proactive measures to ensure its safe operations, its SMS score continues to affect its business. The company has lost approximately $1.5 million in revenue.
“The driver now works for a different employer who has a higher safety score, and they can obtain contracts for which the original company cannot compete,” said Barletta
Several transportation groups have endorsed the bill, including the American Trucking Associations, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Pennsylvania Bus Association and the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association.