This week, the Government Accountability Office announced the FMCSA’s CSA program, while effective, has some shortcomings.
GAO says FMCSA lacks minimum level of information for a carrier to receive an SMS score, which causes the FMCSA to miss opportunities to intervene with carriers that are involved in crashes.
“FMCSA’s methodology is limited because of insufficient information, which reduces the precision of SMS scores. GAO found that by scoring only carriers with more information, FMCSA could better identify high risk carriers likely to be involved in crashes. This illustrative approach involves trade-offs; it would assign SMS scores to fewer carriers, but these scores would generally be more reliable and thus more useful in targeting FMCSA’s scarce resources,” the GAO recommends.
Today, the FMCSA released a study of its own CSA study results.
According to the FMCSA, the Safety Measurement System is “more effective at identifying commercial bus and truck companies of all sizes for targeted enforcement than the system it replaced,” a point the GAO acknowledged.
The GAO report states, “the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program has helped the agency contact or investigate more motor carrier companies that own commercial trucks and buses and has provided a range of safety benefits to safety officials, law enforcement, and the industry than the previous approach, SafeStat. Specifically, from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2012, FMCSA more than doubled its number of annual interventions, largely by sending warning letters to riskier carriers.”
The FMCSA reports that researchers analyzed the association between historical carrier data and future crash involvement by analyzing two years of pre-SMS safety data. The researchers then ran that data through the current SMS system and followed the companies’ crash records for 18 months.
“Results show that the companies the SMS would have identified for interventions, such as roadside inspections, warming letters and on-site investigations, had a future crash rate of more than double the national average.”
Furthermore, 79% of the carriers the FMCSA said SMS would have labeled as high risk, had a higher crash rate compared to those the old system would not have identified.