A CSA advisory panel plans to undertake an extensive review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's flagship truck safety program.

At a two-day planning session this week, the CSA Subcommittee of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee agreed on a review process that will include presentations from researchers who have been critical of the program.

The subcommittee is charged with preparing CSA recommendations for the full Advisory Committee, which in turn will present its recommendations to the agency. The agency is not obliged to adopt the recommendations but it has asked for counsel as part of its ongoing effort to include the industry and interested parties in the process of refining CSA.

The subcommittee will meet next on Dec. 5 to hear details on the data that underlies the CSA system.

In February it will dive into the details of the system, looking at the focus, priorities and objectives of CSA, and how to ensure that the data reflects safety performance and can predict risk. It also is going to look at regional disparities in how data is reported.

On the agenda are presentations from insurers on how they evaluate risk, and from safety experts on crash investigations and accident reconstruction.

Another presentation will address one of the most intractable CSA issues: how shippers and brokers use the data to make decisions about which carrier they will hire.

The subcommittee plans to invite researchers who have criticized CSA to participate.

On the list is Anthony Gallo, a securities analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, whose research indicates that CSA scores may not reflect either the carrier's risk or the likelihood of a crash.

Also, University of Maryland professor James Gimple, whose research shows that CSA scores are not valid predictors of crash frequency.

The American Transportation Research Institute, which also has found a disconnect between CSA scores and crash risk, is on the list.

Researchers from FMCSA and the Department of Transportation's Volpe Center will be on hand, as well.

The subcommittee's longer-term agenda includes a look at the DataQ system for correcting errors in CSA scores, the impact of court actions on CSA violations, the impact of safety screenings versus inspections at roadside and CSA communications, including outreach and training.