Trucking Safety

A survey recently conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that American truck drivers still don’t understand the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance Safety and Accountability (CSA) program.

ATRI, the non-profit research arm of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), surveyed 7,800 drivers and analyzed responses over a three-year period to examine perceptions, attitudes and knowledge of the CSA program, which was rolled out three years ago.

Drivers responded to the CSA knowledge test with a 42.4 accuracy rate, suggesting that after three years they still don’t grasp the new program, according to ATRI.

On a positive note, carrier-provided CSA training has increased steadily since 2011 while driver concerns about job security due to CSA have decreased by nearly 10 percent, according to ATRI.

“ATRI is expanding on this study’s findings by investigating driver CSA training content and frequency and the relationship these variables have to CSA knowledge,” the report states.

ATRI also partnered with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to get a guideline of enforcement personnel knowledge of CSA. They found that among enforcement personnel, respondents performed with 66.5 percent accuracy on the CSA knowledge test.

“The enforcement personnel results provide a platform for further evaluation of enforcement personnel CSA knowledge and the potential impacts this may have on enforcement activities,” ATRI states.

The CSA program came into being three years ago when FMCSA noted the rate of crash reduction had slowed. That prompted FMCSA to take a fresh look at how the agency evaluates the safety of motor carriers and drivers and to explore ways to improve its safety monitoring, evaluation, and intervention processes. CSA is the result of this comprehensive examination.

FMCSA’s previous compliance review program was found to limited in scope and application. FMCSA identified limitations in both how safety was measured and how unsafe behaviors, once identified, were corrected. FMCSA’s examination of the previous program found the following:

  • FMCSA’s former compliance review (CR) program was resource-intensive and reached only a small percentage of motor carriers, which made it increasingly difficult to continue to improve motor carrier safety using existing tools.
  • Onsite CRs to determine a motor carrier’s safety fitness required an average of three to four days to complete. At program staffing levels, FMCSA could perform CRs on only a small number of the 700,000 active interstate motor carriers.
  • SafeStat was FMCSA’s former system for measuring safety performance. Though it proved effective, SafeStat grouped safety problems together to identify carriers for a one-size-fits-all CR. Moreover, it did not focus on the behaviors known to cause crashes.
  • The FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study indicated that increased attention should be given to drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

CSA builds on FMCSA’s former processes for assessing and improving the safety performance of motor carriers and drivers through the new Safety Measurement System and a new suite of tools. These include an enhanced CR, in addition to more focused and efficient interventions tailored to address specific problems.

FMCSA turned to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) to evaluate the new CSA with an operational model test. UMTRI’s 2011 findings confirmed that CSA substantially improves FMCSA’s enforcement and compliance model. The results confirm that the CSA model enables FMCSA and its state partners to contact more commercial motor carriers earlier to correct safety problems and ensure compliance with safety regulations in order to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities related to commercial motor vehicles.

Launched in 2008, the CSA Op-Model Test divided motor carriers from four test states (Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, and New Jersey) between test and control groups. UMTRI evaluated the effectiveness of the new Safety Measurement System (SMS) and CSA interventions, and compared the cost and efficiency of the CSA compliance and enforcement model to the previous model. They found effectiveness and efficiency gains that fully support the ongoing national implementation of CSA. FMCSA added additional states, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and Montana, to the test to demonstrate full implementation challenges and to provide a validation dataset for evaluation purposes.

Based on lessons learned in the Op-Model Test, FMCSA improved the CSA investigative process and training in the Safety Management Cycle for its federal and state partner investigators. The enhanced investigative process allows investigators to systematically identify motor carriers’ safety problems and to recommend remedies to help carriers to quickly become safer.

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