The agency also said it plans to stick to its schedule on Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010. It said that before the end of the year, warning letters will go to carriers that do not make the grade, and roadside inspectors will start using the new data system to identify carriers for inspection. The program will be implemented state-by-state throughout 2011 as the states get up to speed, and the agency's proposal for a new method of determining safety fitness is on track for publication next year.
Starting Aug. 16, carriers will be able to see how they are performing in each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs, the agency said yesterday.
The agency is strongly urging carriers to visit its website (http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov) to get familiar with how the new system will work and preview their data.
"This early look gives motor carriers an opportunity to understand and address their safety compliance issues right away," the agency said in its announcement.
The agency also said it has taken steps to improve the system.
Taking heed of industry concern about its approach to measuring exposure in two of the BASICs, Unsafe Driving and the Crash Indicator, the agency is changing from a calculation based just on the number of power units to one based on a combination of power units and vehicle miles traveled.
The agency also said that these two categories will no longer use power units to establish the group the carrier is in. The Crash Indicator category will use the number of crashes, and the Unsafe Driving category will use the number of inspections with a violation.
The power-unit count also will be dropped from the Controlled Substances/Alcohol category. The exposure measurement there will be the number of relevant inspections.
In addition, severity weightings for some roadside inspection violations will be updated, and the agency said it will change its approach to carriers with a history of size and weight violations. Rather than counting these violations in the Cargo-Related category, the agency will send alerts to roadside inspectors when carriers have a history of these violations.
In its announcement yesterday, the agency took note of a preliminary report by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The report found that while most of the BASICs are good indicators of future crash risk, two of them are not. UMTRI is analyzing the data from the agency's 30-month field test of CSA 2010. Its final report is due by the end of December.
This early report on UMTRI's findings, and concerns about the program among carriers that have been closely following CSA 2010, have fueled speculation that the agency might postpone implementation.
Yesterday the agency made it clear that it intends to proceed on schedule. It said that UMTRI's preliminary findings are in line with what it has found from its own analysis, so it has adjusted how it identifies carriers for investigation so that the BASICs that have the strongest relationship to future crashes get the most emphasis.
As of mid-June, 11,000-plus carriers had logged into the CSA 2010 website to review their safety performance data. That leaves probably several hundred thousand that have not, and those carriers could be in for a rude awakening come December when the system goes live, enforcement officials say.
For an in-depth look at the experience of carriers in the CSA 2010 pilot states, see the August issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.