By Dave Osiecki, ATA Sr. VP of Policy & Regulatory Affairs

In just a few short years, the CSA program has helped transform government oversight of the trucking industry, including better oversight of individual truck drivers.  CSA is also a fairly powerful tool to help carriers better manage their safety programs through increased visibility to their inspection-related compliance challenges and, to a lesser degree, their safety performance challenges.  It’s also clear to many stakeholders, including ATA and Vigillo, that the CSA program itself is not without its own challenges.

Similar to past FMCSA enforcement targeting programs, CSA has both data and methodology problems that are keeping it from reaching its potential.  This begs the question, how can the trucking industry help our government—yep, it’s ours whether we like it or not–make CSA a more powerful and effective tool for government and industry?  The answer is pretty simple.  Engage in the process to make your voice heard.

As you may know, FMCSA recently implemented a new CSA ‘change management process’ that includes public notification of planned changes, motor carrier  preview of the impact of these changes on their scores  and, at least theoretically, improvements to violation severity weights, and the CSA scoring methods .  This new process was initiated in March 2012 with a Notice in the government’s daily ‘newspaper’ known as the Federal Register.  FMCSA’s March Notice announced  several  planned“ enhancements” including, among others, the creation of a new HazMat BASIC, the addition of 118 violations not previously part of CSA, and a wholesale change in how the system addresses cargo securement violations.   Follow this link to FMCSA’s summary of these proposed changes:     http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMS_FoundationalDoc_Final.pdf

If you’re in the business of trucking, I urge you to read and understand these proposals and preview  how your company’s scores could be affected.  Once you do, I strongly encourage you to express your views directly to FMCSA on these changes.   Comments from individual carriers and drivers, in addition to the associations representing them, are absolutely critical if we expect to shape an effective system that accurately represents the safety performance of motor carriers.

If you’ve never before expressed your views in writing to FMCSA or other government agencies, don’t be intimidated or scared—it’s easy.  Simply click on the link below, http://www.regulations.gov/#!home Once you do, enter the docket number “FMCSA 2012-0074” in the search box, click “search” and then click the box for “comment now”  on the appropriate entry.

Your voice matters, so let FMCSA hear it!