CSA Scoring System Report Is Out: Changes Recommended
While the premise behind CSA’s SMS is sound, FMCSA’s execution of the program was flawed from the ground up.
A Congress-mandated report by the National Academies of Science have issued recommendations that the U.S. Department of Transportation overhaul its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) carrier rating system.
The NAS report found that while the premise behind CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) is sound, FMCSA’s execution of the program was flawed from the ground up and that the DOT needs to make CSA’s SMS more fair and accurate in assessing motor carriers’ safety risk.
The chief criticisms of the CSA program from the report include: Some BASICs lack correlation with crash risk, data insufficiency, use of relative rankings, use of non-fault or non-preventable crashes, state variations in inspections and violations, lack of consistency in violation coding, a lack of transparency of the SMS algorithm and the public availability of SMS rankings.
Four main recommendations from the report are to:
- Reconfigure the SMS statistical model (percentile ranking) with an “item response theory” (IRT) model that more accurately targets at-risk carriers
- Make the scoring system more transparent and easier for carriers to understand and replicate
- Depart from using relative metrics as the sole means for targeting carriers
- Better collaborate with state partners and other data providers to collect higher quality data, such as miles traveled and number of power units
Randi Hutchinson, chief counsel for FMCSA, told Transport Topics in an interview, “We at FMCSA have been waiting for this study for 18 months. We were pleased that they found that the agency’s overall approach, which is based on crash prevention, rather than prediction, is sound. We realize that we can always get better, and the study said that we could get better.”
What does this mean for drivers and fleets?
If FMCSA makes the recommended changes, “CSA ratings are going to change from a relative-value rating system to an absolute measure rating system,” says Ryan Walsh, Glostone Trucking Solution’s Business Development Manager. “IMPORTANT – really bad carriers won’t be able to make mediocre safety-performance carriers look good. Everyone will have to up their game.”
In fact, these recommendations would make it easier for carriers to understand how they’re being scored and learn how to improve their scores and safety practices.
NAS will provide the report to the FMCSA and Congress, which called for the report in the 2015 FAST Act highway bill. Once the report is officially presented, the FMCSA will be given time to study the report and determine the specific changes it plans to make.