FMCSA Extends Deadline to Comment on CSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently decided to give truck drivers more time to comment on proposed changes to the Compliance, Safety and Accountability program. If enacted, the modifications would significantly affect the CSA scores of trucking firms and individual drivers. This could have major consequences for the entire industry and road safety in general.
Initially, the FMCSA planned to end the comment period on May 29, 2012. However, the proposed changes have prompted a substantial backlash from the industry. The administration will now accept comments until July 30, 2012 according to the Intermodal Insurance Company. This provides truckers with extra time to preview their scores and learn about the issue. The FMCSA originally proposed the changes in March.
Proposed Changes to CSA
Among other things, the government plans to adjust the classification of safety data. It intends to add a category for violations related to hazardous materials. The FMCSA also seeks to classify citations for improperly secured freight as maintenance violations; they are currently considered cargo-related infractions. Additionally, the CSA system would begin to count fatal crashes separately from collisions that involve injuries.
Most of the trucking industry’s concerns relate to the new hazardous materials category. Some companies warn that the scoring system would unfairly downgrade the ratings of firms that occasionally transport hazardous materials. In May, the American Trucking Association urged Congress to prevent the FMCSA from creating a new version of the program, according to the Journal of Commerce.
A month later, the ATA issued a press release and a white paper on the issue. The association called upon regulators to prioritize the identification of carriers with high crash rates. It urged the administration not to base scores on compliance with regulations. Although it has called for some minor changes, the American Trucking Association generally supports the current scoring system.
Impact of CSA on Truckers
Some truckers have much to lose if their CSA scores change for the worse. Poor ratings can lead to higher insurance rates, lower earnings, loss of employment or regulatory action. During the next five weeks, trucking firm owners and drivers may submit comments or preview their new scores at the official FMCSA website.[:]