Barletta Introduces Safer Trucks and Buses Act
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today introduced the Safer Trucks and Buses Act (H.R. 5532), which halts the publication of flawed safety scores for carriers and directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to revamp its scoring system. Barletta’s legislation addresses a problem with the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program, which was rushed into usage and often does not reflect changes made by carriers to improve their approaches to safety.
“As a father of four daughters, I worry every day about the safety of my girls, and I strongly believe that unsafe vehicles should not be on the road,” Barletta said. “Unfortunately, companies across the country and in Pennsylvania are being unfairly misrepresented by their safety scores, causing economically devastating impacts to these bus and truck companies, many of which are small businesses.”
Barletta related one example of a company which has suffered under the current inaccurate system in his 11th District of Pennsylvania. The company had never had a roadway accident and employed drivers with an average of 35 years of continued experience. Recently, one driver was cited twice for minor violations and was dismissed in compliance with company safety standard policies. Despite the decisive action on the part of the carrier, the company’s CSA score suffered. The driver now works for a different employer, which subsequently has a higher safety score and can obtain contracts for which the original company cannot compete. The situation has cost the safety-conscious business approximately $1.5 million in lost revenue, forcing it to reduce its fleet by half and eliminate jobs.
The legislation requires FMCSA to stop publishing safety scores compiled under the current system on its website and prevents these scores from being used as evidence in liability cases until the program is fixed. In the meantime, the bill requires FMCSA to submit to Congress an improvement plan and implement that improvement plan. Once the scores are improved, they will again be available for the public to make educated decisions about the safety of trucks and buses.
“Make no mistake, I am a strong advocate for roadway safety,” Barletta said. “This bill in no way eliminates law enforcement access to safety data, and the worst offenders can still be targeted. Flawed safety scores do not benefit anyone. Whether it’s a parent looking for the safest bus for her kid’s school trip, a shipper looking for the safest truck to haul its goods, or a small business trying to make it in a tough economy, we need better safety scores to provide adequate safety information.”
Representatives from the carrier industry responded with praise for the Safer Trucks and Buses Act:
“The current system of measurement is unreliable and needs substantial improvement,” said Dave Osiecki, Executive Vice President and Chief of National Advocacy for the American Trucking Associations. “We appreciate Congressman Barletta’s support for the industry and recognition of the need to have a safety measurement system that is reliable, fair and accurate.”
“The data collected in the current CSA program is often misinterpreted, difficult to challenge, and as a result, unreliable,” said Jim Runk, President of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. “Improper and erroneous CSA information results in misleading and detrimental carrier profiles that are available on a public website. We support Congressman Barletta’s bill that will ensure a safety measurement system that is fair, equitable and accurate.”
“Since its launch in 2010, CSA’s methodology and data have been repeatedly shown to be detached from reality,” said David Owen, President of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies. “As a result, carriers often see their CSA scores change under its relativistic scheme without the carriers experiencing any new accidents or inspections – predominately because of constantly changing peer groupings and competing carriers’ inspections at any given time. Carriers have little control over their CSA scores, and remedial steps taken today may have little bearing on their CSA ratings for months.”
“With significant shortcomings in the methodology used to generate CSA scores, as found by independent examinations, businesses that rely on the data to make safety decisions are just as likely to be directed to a less safe carrier than a more safe carrier,” said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Misleading information about the safety of individual motor carriers not only leads to negative impacts on small business trucking companies, but it also can mean unintended public safety consequences. OOIDA appreciates Representative Barletta’s leadership toward setting clear standards for accuracy in CSA’s methodology and data, and we urge all supporters of small business truckers and highway safety to support his legislation.”
“Currently, the CSA program data is misleading to the public by including crash data where a motor carrier was not at fault, and using scores that do not reflect accurate safety assessments for individual operators,” said Elaine Farrell, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Bus Association. “Our members have expressed concern over this issue and support efforts that require the FMCSA to make improvements.”