CSA is working, reports FMCSA head

Rolled out in 2010, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has made a difference in making commercial vehicles safer, Anne Ferro, the agency's administrator, said in her address to last week's Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) 2013 Fall Meeting and National Technician Skills Competition (TMCSuperTech), held in Pittsburgh, PA.

TMC, North America's premier technical society for truck equipment technology and maintenance professionals, works to improve transport equipment, its maintenance and maintenance management.

Through the CSA program, the trucking industry has seen "the most dramatic reduction in roadside violations in more than a decade," she noted. Vehicle violations per roadside inspection are down by nearly 14 percent and driver-specific violations per roadside inspection are down 17 percent.

The primary mission of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses, and vehicle maintenance is at the root of that, said Ferro. Using CSA data and other information to identify high-risk carriers and drivers helps remove them from the road.

She thanked vehicle maintenance professionals for their efforts to keep commercial vehicles well maintained.


Within Compliance, Safety, Accountability is the Safety Measurement System, Ferro explained. It is a performance-based, data-driven safety enforcement program devised to better target carriers for FMCSA interventions. It does this by:

  • Quantifying on-road safety performance of carriers and drivers.
  • Determining the specific safety problems that a carrier or driver exhibits.
  • Monitoring whether safety problems are improving or worsening.

SMS uses a motor carrier's data from roadside inspections - including all safety-based violations, state-reported crashes and the federal motor carrier census - to calculate performance in seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). This is used as a prioritization tool to focus on high-risk carriers.

Four of the BASICS - Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance and Crash Indicator - are strong crash indicators, she pointed out. The other three - Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol and Hazardous Materials Compliance - have a strong correlation to fundamental driver violations.

The top Vehicle Maintenance violations found during roadside inspections are related to lights, tires and brakes, said Ferro.