The CSA or Compliance, Safety, Accountability program was introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2010. While theoretically, the idea was good, it has been coming under a lot of fire since it was officially rolled out. The backlash against the CSA program has been taken note of and it is in the process of being revamped significantly. The recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences have been considered with the FMCSA to bring about the changes.
Here is a look at some of the highlights from the changes that can be expected in the CSA program by the FMCSA:
1. The Revised CSA Program Will Use Item Response Theory
The panel of experts from the NAS compiled a report to help make adjustments to the program. Based on the recommendation from their report, the FMCSA is going to adopt a more statistically principled Item Response Theory model. The IRT is used commonly in the field of education (like SAT tests) and has been vital in making policy decisions across other industries like hospitals.
Within the CSA program, one of the most vital elements is the Safety Measurement System. Commercial motor vehicle carriers that are at a higher risk for crashes in the future are recognized using the Safety Measurement System. The NAS report found that some of the numbers in the Safety Measurement System were not calculated on a factual basis which can be backed by science. The IRT will become a better way to approach more accurate metrics in the safety scores in the fleet industry.
2. CSA Program’s Shortcomings Will Be Addressed
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability program was created to give the FMCSA a better chance to identify the carriers that needed a compliance review. Its need arises because of the fact that there are too many carriers that the agency can review individually in a comprehensive manner.
The new program was slated to use results from inspections and other data so that the companies which warranted interventions due to safety risks could be determined. The system was gradually going to be used to measure the safety fitness determination for these carriers.
The problem is that the CSA program was riddled with difficulties right off the bat. Brokers, attorneys, insurers and other concerned entities started using the scores from the program in a way that the Department of Transportation did not anticipate – nor did they appreciate it. The scores were available publicly, which led to plenty of problems for the fleet industry because of the intervening parties using that information. Congress eventually had to step in and close off access to the data publicly until the program saw itself go through massive amendments.
The report that the NAS panel presented noted several problems with the CSA after analyzing it including:
- No accounting of crashes where motor carriers were not the reason for the crash
- Use of measures which did not reflect the efforts being made by carriers to improve safety over time
- Use of measures that simply cannot predict probability of crashes in the future
- Use of assessments that varied drastically
3. Crash Risk Will Be Replaced By Safety Culture
One of the changes that the CSA program will see with the amendments is an increased focus towards evaluating safety culture as opposed to predicting future crashes. The NAS panel assigned to the task of studying this program had to evaluate whether or not the system could actually predict the probability of future crashes. It was not something that was believed to be accurate to begin with and the NAS panel also came to the same conclusion.
The predictive system, in fact, did a terrible job at it within the existing way the CSA was working. The IRT system in the revised CSA program will be above and beyond the predictive measures. The FMCSA will introduce a new BASIC score that will represent the safety culture of carriers in the fleet industry.
The carriers in the fleet industry, which have lower safety culture scores, will be identified more easily using the IRT. This also means subsequent action which needs to be taken can be implemented on more relevant motor carriers.
4. An IRT Based CSA Model
In July 2018, the FMCSA gave a report to the Congress about their plan on effectively correcting the CSA program. This report defined how they were going to carry out the changes recommended by the NAS panel tasked to help them with the amendments.
While the FMCSA hasn’t revealed a lot of detail about the new IRT model and what it will look like, it is being considered to be a more solid approach than the existing one. The IRT is being described as a sophisticated system that has roots based on facts and figures. The IRT modeling software, being developed by the FMCSA, is being tailor-made for the CSA program.
The full scale model of the new CSA IRT model will be tested out in April of 2019 with a complete roll out of the new system expected to be done in September of 2019. The FMCSA does not have a good reputation for sticking to its deadlines but they have said that the fleet industry needs to be ready for the changes to be made.
The CSA program has been one of the top issues being discussed by the American Transportation Research Institute’s surveys for trucking issues every year since it was rolled out in 2010. The new amendments by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are geared to make corrections to the highly problematic program and possibly make the fleet industry a much safer one.