Last December, in an attempt to improve safety on the highways, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched its Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program. By identifying and sanctioning unsafe commercial bus and trucking companies, the FMCSA hopes to reduce the dangers of trucking accidents and bus accidents on the roadways.
A Safety Measurement System (SMS) will track accident data and any company safety violations. These data are used to rank a trucking company’s safety level using seven measurements to judge its safety performance. These measurements include fatigued driving, unsafe driving, driver fitness, vehicle maintenance, crash history, alcohol or controlled substance use and cargo loading indicators. Using the data from these measurements, the FMCSA hopes to find patterns of safety violations that might predict future conduct. They believe that they will be able to correct non-compliance issues early, before accidents occur.
However, when an individual driver working for a company receives a violation, that violation affects the company’s safety score but is not used to rate the individual driver. The FMCSA has said that the CSA is not meant to rate individual driver safety; although it does keep records of driver violations, it doesn’t take action against drivers with dangerous safety records.
The trucking companies themselves will need to weed out their unsafe drivers.
There is a related initiative called the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) that also tracks statistics for individual drivers. While not part of the new CSA, the driver violations it records become part of the CSA scores.
Even though the individual drivers are monitored, there could be gaps that dangerous drivers fall through. CSA program data are not easy for companies to get. And this information may not be sufficient by itself for a trucking company to evaluate drivers. The PSP reports are only available to a prospective employer of a driver — and the PSP data expire. The violation information is only saved for five years and the crash history data is only saved for three years.
As we all know, the trucking business is a profit-driven business. Operators and drivers are always under pressure to drive faster, for longer hours and under any and all weather conditions. Sometimes safety standards are pushed aside for business priorities.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a truck, contact a personal injury attorney. We will be able to help you do what federal regulators can’t do: hold the trucking companies accountable for their actions.