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CSA 2010 to Launch in July Despite ‘Snafus,’ Ferro Says
Monday, 01 March 2010 00:00

WASHINGTON—Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro said she is committed to launching the agency’s new truck safety rating system in July, although she expects there will be problems at the start.

The new program, Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010, “is not going to be a program we get right from the get-go,” Ferro said Feb. 23 in remarks to American Trucking Associations’ board of directors. “It will certainly impact carriers, and it is causing certainly some frustration and confusion.”

CSA 2010, as it is widely known, is FMCSA’s new regime for rating carriers and drivers. Among its features is timelier updating of fleet performance than the current SafeStat system.

The program is designed to push all carriers to improve compliance with safety rules and to force unsafe carriers to improve or leave the industry, something “many of you have been asking for, and expecting from, the FMCSA for many years,” Ferro told ATA. She said FMCSA would work with industry and law enforcement agencies as it transitions to the new program “to get it right,” but she also said it was important to “recognize there are going to be some snafus along the way.”

Starting this spring, all carriers will be able to access their CSA safety scores, and later this summer, the agency is set to begin enforcement under the program, Ferro said.

“It’s a big shift from the compliance review, which I have described as a balance sheet. That compliance review is one snapshot, taken in some cases five or 10 years ago,” Ferro said, referring to SafeStat.

She said CSA 2010 would feature “a more dynamic monthly financial report where you have the opportunity to examine and identify high-risk [drivers and carriers] . . . in a real-time fashion.”

Some ATA officials expressed apprehension about the program, and Ferro met with federation members and staff before addressing the board to hear the industry’s concerns.

Dave Osiecki, ATA’s senior vice president for policy, told Transport Topics that ATA was concerned primarily about three issues related to CSA 2010:

  • The use of all crashes rather than only the crashes in which the driver or trucking company is accountable.
  • The agency’s use of the number of trucks a company operates, rather than the number of miles they travel, for determining the frequency of violations.
  • The issuance of warnings, rather than citations, in the new enforcement regime.

By issuing warnings, rather than citations, there is no “due process” for carriers, which leaves them no way to challenge violations they feel may have been assigned in error, he said. “There’s no adjudication process,” Osiecki said.

After the ATA meeting with Ferro, Osiecki said, the administrator “understands each one of our concerns, and we believe . . . [FMCSA officials] are having an internal dialogue on them.”

Despite the concerns, Ferro told ATA’s members that the agency is “absolutely wedded to doing it, and doing it well, and doing it thoroughly and moving ahead incrementally.”

That push had Osiecki concerned, however. “My level of angst is high and getting higher,” he said.

ATA Chairman Tommy Hodges said the industry was being cautious as FMCSA moved to the new system, but some glitches are to be expected.

“Any time you overhaul a major guiding set of rules for any industry segment, we always have a great deal of apprehension,” he said. “We always have bumps in the road.”

Hodges said his concerns center on the effect of the new program on industry capacity.

“Undoubtedly, there will be some carriers forced out of the business, and undoubtedly, there will be many drivers forced out of the business,” he said.

Hodges pointed out that when freight is plentiful, fleets’ driver turnover rates rise, and most of that churn involves the bottom 20% of their driver rosters.

“That 20% might be the very ones that get pushed out of the industry,” he said. “If that’s the case, then where are those replacements going to come from? Because without that [supply of new drivers], I only have the ability to handle 80% of the business.”

However, Hodges said, the program “is going to make us a better, safer industry that’s better able to manage our safety processes, and that makes it worth it.”

Ferro said that, despite some of the angst, CSA 2010 could be “a phenomenal opportunity” for trucking companies that follow the rules.

“CSA 2010 will give the carrier the opportunity to go to a shipper and say, ‘You really don’t want to pick a carrier that has . . . [problems], and if you . . . [do], your customers are going to know about it,’ ” she said.

Transport Topics, 3/1/2010