Independent Review Team Questions CSA Value

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently published on its website a report from an independent review team, (which was appointed by Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx) that examined the effectiveness of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative. In summary, the report finds that the FMCSA needs to better align compliance and enforcement processes with the safety risks that cause crashes, and basically notes that the whole CSA initiative in its current form is ineffective at identifying at risk carriers.

Today the Agency has a safety measurement system (SMS) in place that is based on a motor carrier’s on-road performance (thus focused on data regarding inspection results, traffic violations, and crashes). Once a motor carrier has been flagged for attention, field investigators follow up with CRs conducted at the motor carrier’s place of business. These reviews focus on issues that can be examined at the office, such as: records, driver logs, maintenance programs, substance abuse control programs. In some instances, CRs focus on issues quite different from those that may have triggered the need for greater scrutiny. This disconnect affects FMCSA’s everyday operations. The IRT recommends examining all options for expediting the safety fitness rulemaking, which is intended to complete the alignment. The IRT particularly recommends approaches that can increase the effective participation of stakeholders in helping to resolve this problem, with additional recommendations for interim policy changes while the rulemaking is in progress.

The report makes numerous recommendations to the Agency in regard to the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD), SMS Prioritization, SMS data, Compliance Reviews (CR), and others. One recommendation of note is, “FMCSA should start addressing the disconnect between the CSA system and the legacy Safety Fitness Procedure while the new SFD rule is still being considered.” Specifically, the review board recommends addressing the extreme disconnect by working with industry stakeholders to solve the problems, bringing to light valuable information, and perhaps identifying areas of consensus.

The full report is available to view HERE. If you have any questions, contact Chris Burroughs (, 703.299.5705