FMCSA: new safety program working

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released findings from a study examining the effectiveness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability enforcement program. Although the implementation of the CSA program was not without controversy, the FMCSA is claiming that the program has helped improve safety and prevent bus and truck accidents.

This most recent study was conducted by the Volpe Center, which conducts research for the U.S. DOT. The purpose of the study, which began in 2010, was to measure the effectiveness of the CSA program in identifying bus and truck companies across the U.S. that do not measure up to federal safety standards.

One of the most important parts of the CSA program is the FMCSA's Safety Measurement System, a matrix of data for motor carriers collected from roadside inspections, state crash reports and more, all of which are used to measure safety performance and identify potentially problematic bus and truck companies. In the Volpe Center study, researchers used data collected from years before SMS was implemented and ran it through the system's algorithm. They discovered that the carriers that would have been identified by the SMS as potentially dangerous had an accident rate of almost twice the U.S. average. In the FMCSA's view, this proves that the system is working.

Of course, other reports have not been as complementary of the system's ability to identify problematic trucking companies. Indeed, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently published a similar study, in which it identified significant problems with the FMCSA's system.

Many groups in the trucking industry, including the American Trucking Association, were quick to criticize the FMCSA's assessment of the CSA program. Although they support the larger objective of improving safety, the groups have said that the SMS has serious problems. For example, there is far too little data available on smaller carriers, which are overly represented in the Volpe Center study. In some instances, too, particularly involving individual carriers, crash data can be misleading.

Nevertheless, despite disagreements about the effectiveness of the SMS and CSA program as a whole, the FMCSA is confident that it will be able to further refine its methods and will help make our nation's highways safer for everyone.

If you have been hurt in a truck accident, be aware that you have rights. For more information, consider speaking to a personal injury attorney with experience representing clients who have been injured in car and truck accidents.