Differing truck enforcement between states means CSA numbers are not consistent, study finds. File Photo: Kentucky State Police
A new study has confirmed that state enforcement disparities create uneven safety playing fields for motor carriers that have different operating patterns and mileage exposure in the lower 48 states.
The American Transportation Research Institute, the research arm of the American Trucking Associations, this week released its study, Evaluating the Impact of Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Disparities on Carrier Safety Performance.
“This assessment was ranked as the number one research issue for the industry during our annual [Research Advisory Committee] meeting in 2013 and its impact on the industry should be significant," said ATRI Research Advisory Committee Chairman Steve Niswander, who's also vice president of safety policy and regulatory relations for Oklahama-based tank carrier Groendyke Transportation.
ATRI says the analysis documents the necessity for some flexibility in developing enforcement strategies specific to a state’s needs, but also confirms that state enforcement disparities create uneven safety playing fields for carriers that have different operating patterns and mileage exposure in the lower 48 states.
Furthermore, the study finds, the different priorities and violation issuance rates across states dramatically undermine the uniformity of CSA – a supposedly standardized safety assessment program.
By simply crossing into an adjoining state, carrier BASIC scores can change markedly. For example, ATRI’s model calculated one carrier’s Hours-of-Service percentile decreasing by 4.2 points, but their Vehicle Maintenance percentile increasing by 12.2 points if state violation rates were normalized.
Finally, based on two nationally recognized violation lists most closely associated with future crash risk, ATRI’s research documents considerable variability in state emphasis on those violations that generate the greatest safety benefit.
ATRI’s research findings generate from four specific tasks:
- State Data Metrics Compendium which compares and contrasts several dozen safety and operational metrics for the lower 48 states.
- Relating Violations to Crash Risk Analysis reveals that while certain violations have a stronger relationship to crash risk, these violations may not be equitably emphasized across states.
- State Enforcement Objective Case Studies evaluate the impact of six specific state enforcement priorities on actual safety outcomes.
- Carrier Case Studies quantify the impact of state enforcement disparities on specific motor carrier safety measures within the Safety Measurement System (SMS), based on an ATRI-developed model that assesses the impact that standardizing state enforcement activities would have on SMS scores across seven carriers.
“ATRI’s study unequivocally quantifies what we know is a serious defect in the CSA scoring system – that carrier safety performance as represented by BASIC scores can be dramatically impacted by the states in which a carrier operates based on nothing more than the states’ varying enforcement priorities," says Brett Sant, Knight Transportation’s vice president of safety and risk management and a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee.
"Until these disparities are rectified, peer-based comparisons within CSA’s scoring system will continue to be flawed and of little value as a tool for monitoring carrier and driver safety performance unless accounted for properly."
A copy of the study results is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org.