Get Ready for CSA Score Changes: From Crash Risk to Safety Culture
by Mario Tarradell | January 10, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety compliance and enforcement program has been controversial pretty much from the get-go. It officially began in 2010 to give the FMCSA a better way to identify carriers that need additional compliance reviews to determine if they are considered safety risks.
But systematically the CSA program (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) caused disagreement within the trucking industry. The low CSA scores are better system, which includes the seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories), generated outcries of unfairness and mismanagement of information. So much so that in 2015 Congress ordered the FMCSA to shut down public access to CSA scores. That’s because brokers, insurers, attorneys, and others were using CSA scores in ways that the Department of Transportation never intended.
CSA scoring is a complicated, multi-layered topic. These upcoming changes are equally complex. We will do our best to break it down for you, even while we also have some questions that haven’t been answered.
New IRT Scoring Methodology Ushers in Safety Culture
Fast-forward to 2018, and consequently 2019, and we are on the cusp of major changes to the CSA program. There is a new methodology coming and truckers as well as trucking companies need to be prepared for its arrival. The main goal of the new system is to monitor “safety culture” instead of crash risk prediction.
The CSA scores, which were designed to help forecast crash risks, have been deemed ineffective. Enter safety culture scores. These scores will be calculated by the item response theory (IRT) model, a scoring method which is widely used in higher education such as SAT scores. Also, think policies for, say, hospital rankings. The consensus is that the IRT model, which measures abilities, attitudes and other variables, is a more scientific way to arrive at these safety culture scores. IRT’s documented statistical approach to information gathering could redefine BASICs, according to the FMCSA.
The IRT model used to calculate safety culture scores should be ready by April 2019. Then the trucking industry implementation stage will come in September 2019. Those deadlines, however, are subject to change.
Steer Clear from Variety
One more thing, in this new IRT method of calculating safety culture scores, variety is not a good idea. The more violations you have spread out across different areas, the worse your safety culture scores will be.
In review, here are the important things you need to know:
- The FMCSA’s controversial CSA program is getting retooled
- Safety culture scores will replace CSA scores
- The new IRT model of safety culture scoring should get tested in April 2019 and then go widespread in September 2019
- You don’t want variety – a variety of violations in different areas will sink your scores
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