The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says it has long acknowledged shortcomings in its CSA program, but will continue to enforce elements of the program that have come under criticism.

The agency yesterday posted a notice in reaction to a recent analysis of CSA done by the American Transportation Research Institute.

The Institute, an arm of American Trucking Associations, found that while some CSA scores are accurate predictors of crash risk, others work in the opposite direction.

The ATRI analysis found a strong correlation between score and risk in three Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories: Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving and Vehicle Maintenance.

But there is a negative relationship between score and risk in the Driver Fitness and Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASICs, the report says.

In its statement yesterday the agency said the Institute's study confirmed what has long been understood: that exceeding the score threshold in Driver Fitness does not in and of itself indicate high crash risk.

But the agency said it has data showing that 75% of carriers above the threshold in that category also are above the threshold in at least one other category.

"FMCSA will continue to address motor carriers with patterns of noncompliance in the Driver Fitness BASIC and, in doing so, will hold carriers accountable for drivers being properly licensed and meeting medical qualification standards," the agency said.

The agency said this response is based on a preliminary review of the ATRI study, and it plans to conduct an in-depth review.

"(FMCSA) will carefully consider this information as we work to make well-informed decisions about how to further strengthen the CSA program to better identify unsafe carriers and address safety problems before crashes occur," the agency said.

When asked about the FMCSA's statement, Rebecca Brewster of ATRI commented, "Certainly FMCSA's release is highlighting that in those areas where our study validates they've got it right."