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FMCSA offering preview of carriers’ CSA scores under proposed changes, seeks industry feedback

An example from FMCSA's SMS Preview site of a carrier who's no longer within the intervention threshold in the Driver Fitness BASIC, as outlined by the blue and yellow lines, which represent the old intervention threshold and the new intervention threshold, respectively.

An example from FMCSA’s SMS Preview site of a carrier who’s no longer within the intervention threshold in the Driver Fitness BASIC, as outlined by the blue and yellow lines, which represent the old intervention threshold and the new intervention threshold, respectively.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a website that allows fleets and owner-operators to preview potential changes to their Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores based on proposals to reform the program issued in the last two years.

Motor carriers can preview their altered scores at csa.fmcsa.gov/smspreview starting today, Oct. 4, should any changes be reflected from the 2015- and 2016-proposed reforms.

The key changes proposed to CSA and its Safety Measurement System percentile rankings (and now available for preview) include lowering intervention thresholds in some SMS categories/BASICs, raising the threshold in one BASIC and making the Hazmat BASIC public and splitting it into two segments.  Once intervention thresholds are crossed in an SMS BASIC, the agency then targets the carrier for a compliance review. 

FMCSA planning program to add long-wanted 'crash accountability' to CSA, at least temporarily

FMCSA planning program to add long-wanted ‘crash accountability’ to CSA, at least temporarily

The lack of crash accountability in CSA -- namely, using crashes that were in no way the fault of carriers against them in their CSA ...

Other proposed changes available for preview include increasing the minimum number of crashes needed before a carrier receives a score in the Crash Indicator BASIC and shortening the time period for which violations lead to BASIC percentile ratings.

The agency is accepting public comment for 60 days based on the new preview tool. The public comment period opens Wednesday, Oct. 5, and closes Monday, Dec. 5. CCJ will publish a direct link to the comment page once it’s live Oct. 5. The methodology changes to CSA’s SMS will better tie carriers’ safety to their rankings within the system, FMCSA says, and allow it to better target at-risk carriers, the agency argues.

Due to stipulations within 2015’s FAST Act highway bill, percentile rankings within the SMS BASICs are no longer available for public view. Only carriers and enforcers can see the ratings, even though the underlying data used to formulate the BASIC is still publicly available within the SMS portal.

FMCSA floats proposal to up CSA crash threshold to three crashes

FMCSA floats proposal to up CSA crash threshold to three crashes

In addition to the two-year program intended to test the feasibility of removing certain non-preventable crashes from carriers’ CSA scores, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety ...

The proposed changes to the BASIC intervention thresholds — now available for preview — include:

  1. Lowering the intervention threshold of the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC to 75 percent from the current 80 percent for general property carriers, thus targeting more carriers for intervention.
  2. Raising the intervention threshold for the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC from 80 percent to 90 percent, thus targeting fewer carriers for intervention.
  3. Raising the intervention threshold for the Driver Fitness BASIC from 80 to 90 percent, thus targeting fewer carriers.

FMCSA plans to maintain the 65 percent intervention threshold for the BASICs with the highest correlation to crash risk: Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator and Hours-of-Service Compliance.

In addition to proposing to go public with the Hazmat Compliance BASIC (which has now been effectively barred by the FAST Act provisions), the agency has proposed splitting the BASIC into two segments — one for cargo tank carriers and one for non-cargo tank carriers. These proposed changes will also be available for preview for hazmat haulers on the agency’s SMS preview site.

Also available for preview are the proposal to reclassify violation of an out-of-service order to the Unsafe Driving BASIC (instead of whichever BASIC the original violation that caused the OOS order is in) and upping the maximum vehicle miles traveled figure used in CSA’s so-called “utilization factor” to better account for carriers who run in high-mileage operations.

Revamped CSA scores likely won’t return for two years, Sec. Foxx says

Revamped CSA scores likely won’t return for two years, Sec. Foxx says

The reforms required by Congress to the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability carrier ranking system will take about two years to complete, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx ...

FMCSA-proposed changes issued this year are also available for preview on the agency’s new site. Those changes include raising the score threshold for the Crash Indicator BASIC from two crashes to three crashes and removing carriers with no violations in the past year in several BASICs from its intervention prioritization.

The Crash Indicator BASIC changes mean carriers only involved in two crashes will no longer register a ranking within the Crash Indicator BASIC. Carriers must now be involved in three crashes before registering a score.

The other change has has a similar purpose. Instead of carriers — especially smaller carriers with fewer inspections — being assigned BASIC percentile rankings based on violations from their most recent inspection within the previous 24 months, the agency will now only assign BASIC ratings for carriers who have had an inspection violation within the past year. The change applies to four BASICs: HOS Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, Hazmat Compliance and Driver Fitness.

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James Jaillet is Senior Editor for Overdrive and the Commercial Carrier Journal. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.