ATA Pushes for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Response on Crash Accountability

The American Trucking Associations continues to prod the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to change its approach to measuring crash accountability in its CSA safety enforcement program. Yesterday, the association challenged the agency to release a study it has done on the feasibility of using police reports to gauge crash accountability.

The FMCSA told ATA in 2010 that it could not share the study because its findings were preliminary and still being reviewed. Since then ATA has renewed its request a number of times, most recently in a meeting last April, said spokesman Sean McNally in an email.

FMCSA did not respond to an email query about the study yesterday.

The issue is a particular sore point for ATA.

Under CSA, a carrier’s safety performance is rated in part on the crashes it is involved in, no matter who is at fault. The agency has explained that its data shows that crashes, with or without fault, are reliable predictors of future performance.

But the agency also has agreed with ATA that there should be a way to account for fault in the data, and has done preliminary work on a way to get that done.

Then in what ATA believes was a sudden reversal, the agency last February backed away from a plan to request comments on its new approach.

Agency Administrator Anne Ferro explained at the time that safety advocacy groups raised questions about the plan that need to be answered before the agency goes forward.

The questions have to do with the uniformity and consistency of the Police Accident Reports that provide the basic accountability data, and the lack of public input into the determination of accountability.

The agency said it needs more information on how to identify carriers with the greatest risk of future crashes. Specifically, the agency wants to evaluate the uniformity and consistency of police accident reports, and to establish a process for assessing crashes in a uniform way.

It also wants a way to get public comment on the assessment, and to determine the effect of all this on its ability to identify the riskiest carriers.

The agency has not laid out a timetable for this work.

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves recently has been pushing the agency for action on this issue. Last month he said that while ATA has worked with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to improve CSA, its members are beginning to wonder if cooperation is the best approach.

Yesterday in a statement on the crash accountability study, Graves underscored the point:

“To live up to its goal to be open and transparent, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should release the results of its study, identify the specific concerns that caused it to place the planned solution on hold, and commit to a timeline for addressing this issue,” he said.