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FMCSA talks truck industry concerns at Mid-America Trucking Show

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 29th, 2013

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration covers the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA)program’s recording driver violations and crash fault

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently attempted to dispel some (un)popular rumors (at least among the trucking industry, NOT among safety advocates and injury lawyers) about its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program.

According to an article on gobytrucknews.com,  the agency sent analyst Bryan Price to the Mid-America Trucking Show to address truck drivers and trucking companies at the show.

The CSA program focuses on four points:

  1. Measurement,
  2. Evaluation,
  3. Intervention, and
  4. Safety management cycles.

One of the first issues that Price distilled was the misperception that trucking companies somehow “inherit” safety violations of new drivers.  Price explained that “[t]here’s a perception that if I go to work at XYZ Trucking and XYZ Trucking hires me that they automatically inherit my violations.” But this is not the case. Price further explained that a carrier’s CSA record documents violations for that company; it does not include violations previously committed by drivers driving for other companies.  Those previous violations remain with the old company.

The other large issue that was addressed, which has been a hot button issue of late, was fault in truck accidents.  Price, joined by FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro in the discussion, explained that the FMCSA currently does not attribute or include fault when truck accidents are recorded for CSA purposes. This has sparked outrage in the truck industry, and the American Trucking Association (ATA) has been vehemently opposed to the current system.  The ATA has taken the position that only accidents where the truck driver is at fault should be counted against it for CSA purposes.

The duo explained that there is “a lot of interest in making this system overall better by determining preventability.” Ferro said that the FMCSA is currently studying the possibility of making changes to the crash accountability system, but that the study would not be completed until at least July.

However, she also highlighted some of the challenges that exist in so doing:  “[w]e recognize that there are some questions about how uniform police accident reporting is; how uniform a resource on preventability and non-preventability of those accident reports are; and, if you have that as a source, how do you also provide input opportunity for both the entity that may have struck and the individual that’s been struck?”

Ferro’s questions are valid, and highlight the challenges of changing the current system to document fault.  This is exactly why the current system should be maintained without introducing fault into the records.  It could allow some crashes to slip through the cracks and not be held against a motor carrier.

As a safety advocate and truck accident attorney, I understand the importance holding trucking companies accountable for cheating safety regulations and hurting people.

It’s encouraging to see the FMCSA standing up to the ATA, and the trucking lobby more generally.  Hopefully the FMCSA stands its ground and does not concede to the trucking industry pressure for all our sakes.

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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