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Trucking groups urge lawmakers to reject crash score proposal

CSA scores are used to judge "health" of motor carrier. Credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

U.S. trucking and third-party logistics companies are pushing Senate lawmakers to ignore a proposal by their colleagues in the House chamber to make crash safety scores public.

The American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Transportation Intermediaries Association warned the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee that the “dangerous” proposal would be “a step backwards for safety” by rolling back changes made during the Obama administration under the FAST Act.

“The FAST Act directed a full diagnostics and reboot of the CSA [Compliance, Safety, Accountability] system, yet, this provision would disregard that legislative directive, as well as the ongoing work at [U.S. Department of Transportation] to improve CSA, instead returning CSA to a system of inaccurate scores,” the groups wrote in an August 20 letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and ranking member Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).

The groups point out that both the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Sciences found that the CSA system used unreliable data in developing truck safety scores. The scores are used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to identify trucking companies for roadside inspections and other compliance actions.

The provision contrasts directly with efforts underway at the FMCSA to expand the types of crashes that carriers can have removed from the CSA database.

The House version of the appropriations bill, which was approved in June by the Democrat-controlled chamber by a 227 to 194 vote, also included provisions to keep federal regulators from pre-empting states that choose to pass and enforce stricter meal and rest-break laws, and bars the FMCSA from eliminating the 30-minute rest break. The legislation would also continue to exempt agriculture haulers of livestock and insects from the electronic logging device mandate.

A policy analyst told FreightWaves that the provisions were unlikely to get through the Senate due to an earlier agreement between Shelby and Leahy to exclude policy riders from appropriations bills. The groups themselves noted that the two-year budget deal passed on July 22 includes an agreement not to include poison pills and additional new riders in appropriations bills.

“We welcome this agreement, and hope that it cements that [the CSA provision] which is clearly a controversial poison pill policy rider will not be included as part of the final spending package agreed to by the House and Senate, and signed into law by the President,” the groups wrote.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.