A group of small carriers and brokers asked a federal appeals court to review a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration explanation of its CSA safety enforcement program.

The petition for review filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit starts the clock on a legal challenge to CSA's Safety Measurement System.

It's the work of the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation, a group representing small carriers and brokers, as well as individual companies.

"ASECTT members believe SMS methodology is a work in progress, unapproved for (FMCSA's) own use in making safety fitness determinations," said ASECTT President Tom Sanderson in a statement. Sanderson is CEO of Transplace, a third-party logistics provider and broker and a plaintiff in the case.

At issue is a May presentation by FMCSA that explains how CSA works.

ASECTT's concern is that the agency is administering CSA in a way that "(deputizes) the shipper and broker community with the responsibility of making self-enforced safety fitness determinations under penalty of vicarious liability," said Sanderson in a July 2 letter to the group's members.

The group's objective is to force the agency to determine which carriers are safe to operate, and to remove Safety Management System data from public view.

"With no concern for the effect of (SMS data) publication on shippers and brokers or the false branding of carriers and resulting economic consequences on small businesses, the agency has in effect told the shipping community it cannot rely on the agency to do its statutory job to certify carriers as safe for use," Sanderson said.

Joining the petition are the Air & Expedited Motor Carriers Association, the Expedite Association of North America, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and the Transportation Loss Prevention and Security Association.

Also, Allen Lund Co., Bolt Express, BP Express, Carrier Services of Tennessee, Conard Transportation, Des Moines Truck Brokers, Forward Air, Medallion Transport & Logistics, Refrigerated Food Express, Snowman Reliable Express and Triple G Express, as well as Transplace.