Unless you’re closely involved with the trucking industry, you’ve probably never heard of CSA 2010. This is going to have a significant impact on trucking companies and drivers, and (hopefully) a positive impact on safety.
You’ve probably heard of the DOT’s SAFER system. This is a publicly accessible database that tracks carrier safety performance. CSA 2010 is basically SAFER on steroids.
For the first time, not only will carrier performance be monitored, but driver performance will also be tracked. This will be on a rolling 36 month tracking period. One of the most interesting things about this, is that even violations for which no citation is issued will be tracked.
For example, an inspector notices that a truck crossing a scale has a burned out tail light. The inspector pulls the truck over, tells the driver, and the driver replaces the light. Even though no citation is issued, this violation will still get entered against both the driver’s and carrier’s safety ratings.
Violations so recorded are given a weight depending on the nature of the violation. You can go here: http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMS_AppendixA_ViolationsList.xls to see a spreadsheet of the weights for various violations. Violations are also given a weight based on time; i.e. how long ago they were given. I do think that perhaps some of the weightings should be changed. For example, a burned out tail light as in the above example, is given a weight of 6. An inoperative brake is only given a 4. It seems to me that it should probably be the other way around.
The idea behind this system, is to try to pinpoint areas in which individual carriers and drivers are deficient, and use targeted intervention strategies to correct these behaviors.
The whole methodology used is rather complex. You can go here: http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMSMethodology.pdf to read the entire 95 page methodology document.
Carrier data will continue to be publicly available. Individual driver information won’t be, but companies will be able to access this data for their own drivers, and for prospective hires, in theory helping companies to prevent hiring bad drivers. It’s also likely that insurance companies will be using this data, and set rates that reflect carrier performance. It’s quite possible that bad carriers will be priced out of the trucking business entirely (and I think that’s a good result).
This system will likely also have an impact on the way crash lawsuits are litigated. Attorneys will be able to obtain this data, which can give a great deal of information on patterns of non-compliant behavior by carriers and drivers. I am concerned that this information could be blown entirely out of proportion during trials, resulting in undeserved excessive damage awards. On the other hand, bad carriers are going to really get clobbered, hopefully putting them out of business.
Comments and questions welcome.