Department of Transportation Takes the Technology Fast Lane to Save Lives

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has launched a national rollout of Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), an innovative new method of reducing bus and truck crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roads.

FMCSA, its state partners, and staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s Volpe National Transportation Center designed CSA to more effectively identify the safety problems of motor carriers and their drivers. CSA offers innovative new tools that enable motor carriers to enhance the measurement of their safety performance and correct safety problems. Volpe Center has assisted FMCSA in developing and implementing the CSA program over the past several years.

The program team reengineered the enforcement and compliance process to provide a better view into how well large commercial motor carriers and their drivers are complying with safety rules, and to intervene earlier with those who are not.

CSA captures all on-road safety performance data (all safety-based roadside violations and crash data) and classifies this information according to seven specific categories of carrier/driver behavior, called Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving (Hours-ofService), Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Crash Indicator, Vehicle Maintenance, and CargoRelated.

Beginning in February 2008, FMCSA conducted a 30-month CSA field test involving 92,000 randomly chosen commercial motor vehicle carriers in nine states: Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and Montana. Throughout the test, FMCSA solicited feedback and listened carefully to enforcement staff, test participants, and industry safety experts.

The team then incorporated its input into the new CSA program prior to the phased national rollout that began in December 2010.

CSA now offers a comprehensive measurement system, with monthly evaluations of all safety-based violations found during roadside inspections.

Violations are weighted by their relationship to crash risk for both carriers and drivers. CSA then takes steps according to its new intervention process, based on the risk posed by carriers. The process is designed to reach more carriers and drivers, and to identify and correct problems sooner, before a crash occurs. Interventions promote safety through several proactive tools, including early warning letters and onsite comprehensive investigations.

CSA covers the full spectrum of safety issues: from how data are collected, evaluated, and shared to how enforcement officials can intervene most effectively and efficiently to improve safety on our roads.

CSA’s data analysis expands on the previous SafeStat system, covering more behavioral areas specifically linked to crash risk. This approach allows FMCSA and its state partners to use less resource-intensive means while maintaining a strong enforcement presence.

As CSA rolls out, a concerted effort will continue to inform carriers, drivers, and safety partners of the changes, and to encourage all stakeholders to become more involved in their own safety management practices by understanding how CSA impacts them.