GAO Review: FMCSA's CSA Safety Scores Are Flawed

Government Accountability Office found in its recent review that the agency's CSA safety enforcement program cannot accurately assess the safety of small carriers.

Confirming what many in the trucking industry have thought all along, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the results of their review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) CSA safety enforcement program last week and determined that the agency's program cannot accurately assess the safety of small carriers. The report found that FMCSA lacks sufficient safety performance data on most carriers to reliably compare them with other carriers, and that the lack of data is especially problematic for small carriers, who make up 95 percent of the industry.

"The GAO's review of FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program was comprehensive, thoughtful and balanced," said Bill Graves, the president and CEO of the America Trucking Associations (ATA). "While ATA has long supported CSA's objectives, we can't help but agree with GAO's findings that the scores produced by the program don't present an accurate or precise assessment of the safety of many carriers."

The GAO reviewed the CSA at the request of Senators concerned about the effectiveness of the system. The watchdog agency said the CSA has benefits, but because of data shortcomings it is not as strong a predictor of crash risk as it could be.

For CSA to be effective in identifying carriers more likely to have a crash, the violation data used by the system should have a relationship to crash risk, GAO said. However, for most violations, FMCSA has not demonstrated the relationship between violation groups and motor carrier crash risk due, in part, to the lack of data. 

The report also calls into question FMCSA's intention on using CSA data as a basis for its Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking, scheduled for later this year.

"Basing a carrier's safety fitness determination on limited performance data may misrepresent the safety status of carriers," the report stated.  

"It would clearly be improper for FMCSA to proceed with its plan to base carrier safety fitness determinations on data from the system, until the problems identified by GAO have been rectified," said ATA’s Executive VP Dave ?Osiecki. To read more, click HERE.