Fuel Smarts

ATA Demands FMCSA Release Study Used to Develop CSA Scoring System

June 12, 2012

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American Trucking Associations is calling on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to release a study of the links between violations and crash risk used to develop its methodology for assigning carriers' scores in its monitoring and measurement system: Compliance, Safety, Accountability.

"FMCSA has an obligation to release this study so the industry and other stakeholders may evaluate CSA and offer substantive proposals to improve it," says ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.

FMCSA cited the study, titled "2007 Violation Severity Assessment Study Final Report," as a component in the development of the severity weights in CSA, which are assigned to all violations on a scale of one to 10 based on their relationship to crash occurrence and consequences.

ATA has requested the study in writing three times since May 2010. The agency has refused these requests and a request from its own Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, a group of stakeholders appointed by FMCSA's administrator to advise the agency on regulatory and program matters.

The MCSAC ultimately concluded there is a "continuing need for further data collection to accurately establish crash causation relationships to justify ultimate weighting scores." In it sfinal report, MCSAC said that because the group was not provided with such data, its recommendations with respect to appropriate violation severity weights largely reflected "guesswork" on the relationship between particular violations and crashes.

An evaluation of CSA conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, released by FMCSA in 2011, described the assignment of severity weights as "arbitrary" and went on to point out that "whether the weights used in the calculation of the BASICs scores are appropriate is not known…."

"FMCSA's reluctance to release this document, as well as other important CSA-related documents, sends the wrong message," says Graves, referring to ATA's recent request for the agency to release its study of crash accountability. "Graves also says the pattern of failing to disclose critical background information, despite numerous requests, contradicts the agency's claims of openness and transparency."

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