The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Friday announced several changes to its Compliance, Safety, Accountability enforcement program, including going ahead with a new HazMat BASIC that has prompted a lot of criticism from the industry.

The agency said the changes to CSA will let the agency more quickly identify and address high-risk truck and bus companies with compliance concerns by giving FMCSA more precise information when assessing a company's over-the-road safety performance.

The changes will be implemented in December 2012 and include:

Changing the Cargo-Related BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) to the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC to better identify hazmat safety and compliance problems.

The agency says its analysis shows that this change will identify more carriers with hazmat concerns (33.8% versus 29.1%). In response to criticisms about the reliability of the information during the four-month preview period on the proposal, FMCSA will make this visible only to carriers and law enforcement starting in December. FMCSA will conduct further monitoring before it is made public.

Changing the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the more specific Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately reflect violations in this area; and weighting HOS paper and electronic logbook violations equally.

Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by including cargo/load securement violations from the current Cargo-Related BASIC.

Including intermodal equipment violations that should be found during drivers' pre-trip inspections.

Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations to ensure citations are consistent with current speedometer regulations.

Ensuring all recorded violations accurately reflect the inspection type (i.e., only driver violations will be recorded under driver inspections).

FMCSA provided a four-month preview period to ensure the public had multiple opportunities to review and comment on the proposed changes to CSA's online Safety Measurement System. Overall, 14,000 carriers and 1,700 law enforcement personnel participated in the public preview. The Federal Register Notice issued today responds to the comments received as of July 30, 2012, regarding the preview of the updates to the system.

Many carriers, as well as shippers and brokers, were concerned that the preview scores in the new hazmat category were inconsistent and that the data should not be made public until the agency can address those problems. That's why the agency is emphasizing that only carriers and law enforcement will be able to view this category in December.

For instance, Knight Transportation said that hazmats such as paint and cleaning products make up less than 1% of all its loads, and it has had just one hazmat violation this year, but the agency's new system gives it a 98% ranking.

"It is inappropriate to make carriers' scores public in the HM (category), as shippers, insurance providers and plaintiff's attorneys may erroneously label safe, responsible carriers as unsafe," said Schneider National in its comments.

(To read more about some of the concerns about the changes, read "CSA Changes Draw Strong Commentary.".

For complete details on the new CSA improvements, go to