CSA Scrutinized at House Hearing
Many people are not happy with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative. In fact, some allege that it could hurt small carriers, which is why they went to Congress with a hearing about the issue.
Specifically, the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which attempts to determine the future crash risk of drivers, is not considered a good tool to use. In fact, according to Trailways (http://www.teamtrailways.com/house-small-business-hearing-on-fmcsas-csa-program/), many people think of it as arbitrary. This is why they want the SMS to become private, so no one is judged on the information in the database.
The CSA Is Not Always Considered Helpful
The majority of carriers are not rated, so the CSA has so far not helped shippers determine the best ones to use. Some think the FMCSA should outright tell shippers which carriers are the safest, rather than using the CSA to require them to make this determination.
In addition, there is a debate going on between FMCSA and other groups, such as Wells Fargo Securities, regarding whether CSA is able to predict the risk of a crash. The FMCSA continually claims that the program can tell whether a particular driver is likely to end up in a crash, while some studies claim otherwise. For this reason, some are not yet convinced that the CSA is even useful.
Another concern is that the CSA cites drivers in crashes that might not have been their fault. The American Trucking Associations in particular is worried about the fact that in most crashes that involve a truck, drivers of passenger vehicles were often found at-fault. Now with the CSA, truck drivers are often cited because the initiative tends to blame them more than others on the road.
Small Carriers Could Be Negatively Affected by CSA
Also, smaller carriers could be at a disadvantage because they do not get inspected very often. When they finally do, just a few flaws can majorly affect their score from the CSA. Larger carriers that get frequent inspections do not face the same issue, and the concern is that they are using this advantage to win business that might otherwise go to smaller carriers.
Many are also unsure that trucks need to have an electronic onboard recorder, as the CSA would mandate. Though some have voiced their concerns, the FMCSA seems to be going forward with it, even though it will cost about $2 billion.
The FMCSA has largely defended the CSA against these accusations. However, some changes could still be made in the near future.