The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently proposed changes to its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program that could improve the trucking industry's safety. The proposed changes aim to stop using the Item Response Theory (IRT) and update the Safety Measurement System (SMS) to more accurately identify unsafe carriers. In this article, we will discuss the potential impact of these changes on the trucking industry and the benefits they could provide.
The Problems with CSA and IRT:
The CSA program has been in use since 2010 and has faced criticism due to its reliance on the IRT procedures. IRT was used to adjust the carriers' scores based on the severity of their violations. Still, it was flawed as it failed to accurately reflect the carrier's safety performance. The use of IRT has resulted in inaccurate scores, which have led to unfair targeting of safe motor carriers and neglect of unsafe trucking companies. The proposed changes by FMCSA aim to eliminate the use of IRT and adopt a new system that would more accurately identify carriers that pose a safety risk.
The Impact of the Proposed Changes for Trucking Safety:
The proposed changes by FMCSA could significantly improve the trucking industry's safety by accurately identifying carriers that pose a safety risk. The new system would rely on a better method for calculating scores, more accurately reflecting the carrier's safety performance. Carriers that pose a safety risk would be targeted for intervention. In contrast, safe carriers could continue their operations without unnecessary scrutiny. The changes could also increase public confidence in the trucking industry's safety, as the new system would more accurately identify unsafe carriers.
Benefits for the Trucking Industry:
The proposed changes could benefit the trucking industry in several ways:
It could lead to increased safety on the roads, which would benefit not only the industry but also the general public. The FMCSA can protect the public from unsafe motor carriers by accurately identifying carriers with a safety risk.
The changes could lead to increased efficiency in the industry, as safe carriers would no longer be subjected to unnecessary inspections and interventions. This could reduce the administrative burden on carriers, allowing them to focus on their operations.
The changes could lead to increased trust in the industry, as the public and other stakeholders would see that the FMCSA is taking steps to improve safety.
How this relates to trucking insurance
Most of the semi-trucks on the road today represent owner-operators or small fleets. In fact, nearly 97% of all commercial trucks on the road belong to trucking companies with fewer than twenty trucks in their fleet. When trucking insurance companies underwrite a risk, they look at many factors, including the SMS scores for the motor carrier. When comparing to large trucking fleets, if a small motor carrier with six trucks has six inspections with three violations, that 50% rating would put the company at a disadvantage compared to a larger fleet because it has more trucks on the road to help decrease the percentage of violations. By reevaluating how the FMCSA rates violations, truck insurance companies could also review how they rate certain violations in their underwriting process.
The proposed changes to the CSA program by FMCSA are a vital step towards improving the trucking industry's safety. By eliminating IRT and adopting a new system that more accurately identifies unsafe carriers, FMCSA can protect the public and increase efficiency and trust in the industry. These long-awaited changes could benefit the industry, the public, and other stakeholders. We hope these changes will be implemented quickly and effectively to ensure a safer and more efficient trucking industry.