In mid-April, the American Transportation Research Institute indicated that it would soon release a report documenting what many have observed: that enforcement patterns reporting demerits for drivers and carriers under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program vary greatly by state. As a result, similar drivers accrue widely different “BASIC” scores in different states. In the words of ATRI vice president of research Dan Murray, “You really can’t have a stable and standardized national safety management system if you have dramatically different definitions, priorities and areas of emphasis.” An independent safety analyst comments, “You have a federally mandated system applied by 50 different autonomous, independent, resource-constrained state patrols.”
ATRI notes that reported violations may reflect different states’ enforcement emphases. Noting that a carrier had accrued 60% of its CSA-reportable violations in Indiana, where it only drove 7% of its miles, Murray asks, “Is it possible that the same carrier that is using the same drivers and the same trucks is suddenly a marginal carrier when they cross into Indiana but is a phenomenal carrier everywhere else?” The dispute isn’t over whether Indiana has a right to enforce its own safety priorities but whether the resulting reports are relevant to a national comparison or drivers and carriers. The challenge to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says Murray, is “to standardize a system that has dramatically different inputs.”
Submitted by Neil Ward, Forest Resources Association.