An analysis of the CSA safety enforcement system finds that most elements are working well but improvements still are needed.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute prepared an in-depth study of the 30-month field test of CSA, then known as CSA 2010. As expected, it found that the system worked better than the old SafeStat system, improved carrier behavior and reached more carriers.

But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also needs to make adjustments in two of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs. Both the Cargo-Related and the Driver Fitness BASICs show a weaker relationship to crash risk than the other BASICs show, the UMTRI report says. It also notes that the agency has a study under way that could lead to improvements.

The Institute also found that there was a lag time in measureable safety performance improvement after investigations, and that carriers with serious safety problems showed improvement rates similar to those in the control group.

The agency expects to address these issues in its upcoming proposal to establish safety fitness determinations based on CSA data, rather than on Compliance Reviews. That proposal is scheduled to be published in February.

"The study confirms many of the positive attributes of the system," said Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy at American Trucking Associations. "However, we are concerned that (the agency) might consider moving forward with a safety fitness rulemaking process based on the system before solving a number of these fundamental problems."