Feds Promise CSA Web Site Changes

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On October 21, senior Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials stated that plans are in progress to make it clearer to users of FMCSA’s “Compliance – Safety – Accountability” Safety Measurement System’s web site exactly what the safety scores posted there mean and to ensure that anyone attempting to evaluate a carrier’s safety record will have access to meaningful comparisons.

“What we’re focusing on now is how the existing SMS information is displayed to the public,” an FMCSA official told participants at an American Trucking Associations educational session. “While we get a lot of comments on the [CSA] methodology, the theme in every comment is that this is out there in the public eye, and people want to make sure that the users of the information are well-informed on what SMS is and what it isn’t.”

Truckers have criticized the safety scores, or BASICs, posted on the site for:

• inconsistent relationships between BASIC scores and actual crash risk;
• relying on police reports of accidents (rather than court judgments) to determine responsibility;
• obscuring meaningful comparisons among comparable carriers.

The concern is that shippers who use the site to comparison-shop to reduce liability, or insurers who use it to evaluate a carrier’s risk, could discriminate unfairly if they viewed the data provided there without understanding its context. FMCSA indicated that a “preview” of the changes to the SMS site would be available in early November.