Updates to FMCSA CSA/SMS and Crash Preventability Program

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is constantly working to enhance the safety of public roads. As a part of its efforts, the FMCSA recently announced some proposed changes to the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS). In addition, the Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP) is also up for expansion. Dan Horvath, Vice President of Safety Policy for the American Trucking Association, recently presented a webinar with DISA covering everything employers need to know about the proposed changes to the CSA/SMS methodology. Here’s a quick and comprehensive summary!

IRT Model Concerns

On February 14, 2023, FMCSA published a notice seeking public feedback on the proposed CSA/SMS system changes. The proposed changes follow the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations, which suggested adopting the Item Response Theory (IRT) model to prioritize carriers for safety intervention.

However, the FMCSA expressed concerns regarding the IRT model, including:

  • Overall complexity
  • Timeliness computing carrier results
  • Exclusion of Vehicle Miles of Travel (VOMT) or Power Units (PUs) to adjust for differences in on-road exposure
  • Bias toward identifying smaller carriers with fewer inspection violations and limited on-road exposure
  • Motor Carriers' (MCs) inability to compute IRT results independently

Proposed CSA Changes  

As a result of these IRT concerns, the FMCSA has decided not to adopt the IRT model. Instead, it proposed to modify the CSA's SMS to assess a carrier's compliance posture and crash risk more accurately.

The FMCSA proposes reorganizing the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The SMS groups carriers by BASIC with other carriers that have a similar number of safety events and then ranks carriers and assigns a percentile to prioritize them for interventions.

The seven categories are:  

  1. Unsafe Driving – Combines previous controlled substances/alcohol BASIC and violations for operating while under OOS order.
  2. Crash Indicator - State-reported crashes from the last two years are collected in this BASIC to help identify patterns of high crash involvement and the behaviors or set of behaviors that contributed to the crash.
  3. Hours of Service Compliance – Addresses requirements for all large truck and bus drivers to ensure that they are alert, awake, and able to respond quickly.
  4. Vehicle Maintenance – Considers proper vehicle maintenance to help ensure safety on the road, including pre- and post-trip inspections, vehicle defects, and repairs.
  5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol - Addresses misuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and over the counter and prescription medications that impair abilities and endanger everyone’s safety on the road.
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance - Includes regulations that require special attention, from how to properly package, mark, label, placard, and load HM, to understanding regulations for tank specification testing, loading/unloading, attendance, and leakage.
  7. Driver Fitness - Addresses driving records. Motor carriers are responsible for ensuring driver qualification files are complete and current.

Beyond the BASICS 

Additionally, the FMCSA has some proposed changes that go beyond the BASICs, including

  • Consolidating violations
  • Revising severity weights
  • Setting proportionate percentiles
  • Improving intervention thresholds
  • Focusing on recent breaches
  • Updating the utilization factor

Notably, the FMCSA does not propose changes to address the geographic disparity, raising the minimum number of crashes for percentile, or a return to public view.

CSA Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP) 

On April 13, 2023, FMCSA published a notice and sought public comments on the expanded CPDP. The agency plans to expand the eligible crash types from 16 to 21 and introduce a particular category for any crash involving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) where video evidence demonstrates the sequence of events of the crash. The proposal also looks to broaden and modify 11 existing crash types, thereby making more crashes eligible. Moreover, the FMCSA is seeking feedback on obtaining police accident reports. Once the proposal is finalized, a start date for new crash types will be established. However, it's important to note that these new types will not apply retroactively.

When reviewing CPDP data, 39,133 Request for Data Review (RDRs) were submitted to the program by 7,699 unique carriers. “When the CMV was struck in the rear” was the most frequent crash type at 11,280. Of the total 25,696 determinations, 24,690 were classified as “not preventable,” while 459 were classified as “preventable,” and 547 were “undecided”. FMCSA is evaluating plans to extend this program, including adding crash types and allowing video evidence.

The FMCSA's commitment to enhancing road safety continues with the proposed changes to the CSA/SMS and the Crash Preventability Determination Program. Stakeholders are encouraged to review the proposed changes and provide feedback to contribute to the ongoing efforts of the FMCSA to create a safer environment for all road users.

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Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background screening, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.

DISA Global Solutions aims to provide accurate and informative content for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. Always consult with a professional or legal expert.