The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) used statistical analysis to compare scores to actual crash involvement.
The study found that while there was a strong correlation between score and three BASIC category scores and risk. The categories ATRI says are the most accurate predictors of crash involvement are Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving and Vehicle Maintenance.
In contrast, ATRI found that that the relationship between score and risk in Driver Fitness and Controlled Substances and Alcohol is a negative relationship. In fact, “as a carrier’s Driver Fitness record improves, that carrier’s crash rate goes up.”
“According to FMCSA, high percentile scores in a Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) indicate a lack of compliance and greater exposure to potential safety problems, including crash involvement. That is, as scores go up, it is expected that crash involvement will also increase. However, previous researchers searched for, and failed to find, clear linear relationships between BASIC percentile scores and carrier crash rates,” the report states.
ATRI assessed all five public BASICs, finding a strong safety relationship for the Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs; partial support for the Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC; and no statistical support for the Driver Fitness BASIC. In fact, the data show that, as a carrier’s Driver Fitness record improves, that carrier’s crash rate goes up.
“ATRI’s research identifies a key weakness in FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System,” said Scott Mugno, Vice President of Safety, FedEx Ground who testified on behalf of the ATA at a Congressional Subcommittee on CSA last month.
“The conclusions in ATRI’s study support what many motor carriers have found to be true in their operations – namely, that scores in the CSA Driver Fitness BASIC do not bear a statistical correlation to crash risk. However, the industry has always supported CSA where it does reduce crash risk and ATRI’s study validates that there are portions of CSA that are working as intended.”
Recognizing the flaws in current CSA profiles, ATRI proposes an alternative method for communicating fleet safety information to the public in a way that more accurately reflects carrier safety performance.
As it is currently designed, CSA has a number of defects that still need to be addressed. While it may be helpful for FMCSA to continue using specific BASIC percentile scores for internal purposes, ATRI proposes several alternative scenarios for relaying safety and compliance information to the public. Since many stakeholders (e.g. shippers, insurers, litigants) assume CSA profiles reflect safety status, steps should be taken to provide to the public only information that can be reliably tied to safety.