Safety & Compliance

Pennsylvania Congressman Offers Bill to Shield CSA Data

September 22, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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The industry’s effort to shut off public access to truck safety data continues with a proposal by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., to temporarily shield the information.

The Safer Trucks and Buses Act says CSA data should not be available to the public and should not be used as evidence in legal proceedings while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration corrects shortcomings in the system.

CSA, which stands for Compliance, Safety, Accountability, uses data from crashes and roadside inspections to flag carriers for enforcement action.

The industry generally supports the aims of CSA but has repeatedly said that the program’s Safety Measurement System posts data that is neither consistent nor accurate.

These concerns are reflected in Barletta’s bill, which would require FMCSA to make sure that the data predicts risk and is current and accurate. It also says the data needs to be complete enough not to harm small carriers that might have limited exposure, takes state variations into account and does not include crashes in which the carrier is not at fault.

Once the agency can tell Congress it has solved these problems, then the data can be returned to public view, the bill says.

“Make no mistake, I am a strong advocate for roadway safety,” said Barletta in a statement. “This bill in no way eliminates law enforcement access to safety data, and the worst offenders can still be targeted.”

A number of industry groups praised the bill.

“The current system of measurement is unreliable and needs substantial improvement,” said Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy for American Trucking Associations.

Jim Runk, president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, said the data is often misinterpreted.

“Improper and erroneous CSA information results in misleading and detrimental carrier profiles that are available on a public website,” Runk said.

“We support Congressman Barletta’s bill that will ensure a safety measurement system that is fair, equitable and accurate.”

Joining in support were the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Pennsylvania Bus Association.

Their statements echo points made by a coalition of industry groups last month in a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, asking him to hide the data.

FMCSA has opposed removing the data from public view, contending that carriers with high scores in some SMS categories are more likely to be involved in a crash.

Barletta’s bill has been referred the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which he is a member.

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