When it comes to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative (CSA 2010), there's no such thing as a consensus opinion. Some have hailed the program as a bold step toward making America's roads safer. Others have characterized it as potentially the most damaging regulation in the trucking industry's history—one that could result in a critical shortage of drivers.
The lack of consensus hasn't stopped the FMCSA from pushing forward with plans for implementation. The regulations are scheduled to take effect this year, although it appears they won't be fully implemented until 2011. Questions of the timetable aside, one thing is certain: They will be implemented, and they will apply to all carriers and drivers over which the FMCSA has jurisdiction.
The program at the heart of the controversy is a government safety initiative aimed at reducing crashes and associated injuries and fatalities by removing the worst carrier and driver violators from the road. It includes mechanisms for measuring driver and carrier safety performance, determining the cause of recurring safety problems, and developing recommendations for corrective action.
To identify safety risks, FMCSA has created a new Safety Measurement System (SMS), which measures drivers' and carriers' performance using the following seven criteria:
What critics object to are not so much the measurement criteria themselves as the point-based ranking system that will be used to evaluate truckers. Some have questioned the weightings assigned to particular violations, while others have raised concerns about fairness to drivers. For example, in testimony before Congress in June, the American Trucking Associations argued that under the current system, drivers could be held accountable for accidents they didn't cause and urged the FMCSA to revise the regulations.
This is a valid concern, and it is important that it and other matters be dealt with as implementation progresses. Carriers have a right to expect fair and equitable treatment as well as consistent enforcement. The success of the program depends on it.