Panel highlights CSA data-quality issues

Published February, 05 2013

Industry-wide frustration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program was well apparent in the two days of meetings of an FMCSA advisory committee held this week.

Representatives of motor carriers, law enforcement, trade associations, brokers and other stakeholders voiced concerns at the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee’s CSA Subcommittee meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday and Tuesday, over the enforcement prioritization system’s lack of crash fault/preventability and brokers/shippers’ view of scores as de facto safety ratings.

Most if not all frustration, however, pointed back to the central problem underlying each: The quality of the roadside data on which the entire system is based.

No easy answer to crash-fault question
Subcommittee head Dave Parker of Great West Casualty, former chairman of the MCSAC, began the meeting Feb. 5 with a request of fellow subcommittee members. Parker tasked each to provide him with a prioritized list of three specific CSA-related issues. Thinking ambitiously, Parker said, “I’d like to end [the meetings] with a document we’d be submitting to [the full MCSAC committee and then to the administrator], with comments on an issue this group feels requires the first priority.”

Though it’s sure to be on any number of committee members’ top three lists, crash fault/preventability may be unlikely to make the final cut for Feb. 6 deliberations. The issues inherent in determining fault and/or preventability are numerous, as accident reconstruction professionals made clear in morning presentations today.

While Gainesville, Ga.-based Jeffrey A. Kidd of Collision Specialities Inc. and Windsor, Ontario-based Jim Hrycay of Hrycay Consulting Engineers come from opposite backgrounds in the accident-reconstruction trade (Kidd’s a former patrol officer, Hrycay an engineer by training), both put a damper on the industry’s hopes of crash accountability and preventability being included in CSA scoring metrics.

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