The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented a number of improvements to its CSA safety enforcement program, including dropping the Cargo-Related BASIC and adding a new Hazardous Materials BASIC that is expected to put more scrutiny on carriers hauling hazmat.
One of the major changes is a new Hazmat BASIC.
One of the major changes is a new Hazmat BASIC.

The improvements, which were initially announced last August, include changes to a number of the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories that the agency uses to keep track of carrier performance.

Details of the changes are available on the CSA website.

Announcing the changes, agency administrator Anne Ferro said CSA is an effective program that has had a positive effect on safety. She cited an 8% decline in violations at roadside inspections, and a 10% drop in driver violations per inspection in the last calendar year.

"These represent the most dramatic decrease in violation rates in a decade," she said. She added that traffic on the CSA website has increased substantially: 48 million visits last year, up 18 million from the year before.

Ferro also said that the agency is on track to publish the next phase of the CSA program, its safety fitness proposed rule, in the first half of next year.

Researchers Find Flaws

In a related CSA development, an agency advisory panel is scheduled to hear testimony tomorrow from researchers who have found flaws in the program.

One of the speakers at a meeting of the CSA Subcommittee of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee will be Anthony Gallo of Wells Fargo Securities, whose research indicates that CSA scores may not reflect either the carrier's risk or the likelihood of a crash.

Also scheduled are James Gimpel of the University of Maryland, whose research shows that CSA scores are not valid predictors of crash frequency, and the American Transportation Research Institute, which has found a disconnect between CSA scores and crash risk.

The list of speakers also includes David Madsen, an analyst with Department of Transportation's Volpe Center, and Daniel Blower, a researcher with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The Subcommittee is engaged in an extensive review of CSA as part of an effort by MCSAC to prepare recommendations for improving the program.

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