Improvements to CSA Safety Measurement System planned
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced planned improvements to the Carrier Safety Measurement System implemented in December 2010 as part of the agency’s Compliance Safety Accountability program. A preview became available to motor carriers and law enforcement on March 27, and the system changes are scheduled to be available to the public in July.
FMCSA said the SMS improvements are based on ongoing analysis and feedback from enforcement personnel, the motor carrier industry and other stakeholders, and are designed to more effectively identify and prioritize high-risk and other unsafe motor carriers for enforcement interventions designed to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes and hazardous materials incidents.
Starting March 27, FMCSA began providing motor carriers with the ability to preview how the improvements impact their individual safety data in SMS. The data preview may be found at http://www.csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/. During the data preview period, FMCSA requests comments on the impacts of the changes. To comment, go to www.regulations.gov; the docket number is FMCSA 2012-0074.
Flatbed carriers will get some relief on their safety rating, said Bryan Price, an FMCSA senior staff member. Perhaps the biggest change is moving load securement violations from the Cargo-related BASIC into the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, he said. Flatbedders have considered the current system unfair because their load securement violations are much more obvious than trucks pulling dry vans or reefers, and the Cargo-related BASIC disproportionately affects their CSA ratings. FMCSA agreed, Price said, and the securement violations in the new framework will have much less effect on carriers’ scores.
Another change will be to assign violations involving intermodal equipment more accurately. Violations that a driver should have addressed in a pretrip inspection should be assigned to the carrier, not the intermodal equipment provider, Price said.
Truck drivers still do not get a CSA score as do carriers, Price said. “We are not rating drivers,” Price said, addressing a point of debate that has accompanied CSA since its launch. “We do have a driver measurement system.” That system is internal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and carriers do not have access to it. When FMCSA investigates a carrier, it also might look further into the records of a driver who has a known problem “as part of our evaluation of the carrier,” he said.
Under the Pre-Employment Screening program mandated by Congress, FMCSA sends driver data to a carrier when the driver gives consent to the carrier, such as when applying for a job. However, that data is not a score, but a record of violations and crashes. Some private vendors are accumulating the data sent to carriers and “turning it into something they’re calling a CSA score,” Price said. The “score” doesn’t have a meaning for the feds, but carriers and insurance companies can evaluate it however they wish. – Max Heine
Improvements to SMS
Changes to the SMS methodology that identify higher-risk carriers while addressing industry biases.
Better applications of SMS results for agency interventions by more accurately identifying safety-sensitive carriers – such as carriers transporting people and carriers hauling hazardous materials – so that such firms can be selected for CSA interventions at more stringent levels.
More specific fact-based displays of SMS results on the SMS Website.
Medical examiners final rule released
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last month announced its long-awaited final rule setting training and testing standards for medical professionals who conduct required physical examinations of commercial drivers. Under the rule first proposed in 2008, FMCSA also will maintain the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to help drivers find certified examiners. The final rule also provides for establishing a medical examiner database and requires medical examiners to identify drivers they have examined to FMCSA.
Under the final rule, healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers must be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. “This new rule will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
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