Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Under Scrutiny at Capitol

Kevin Anderson CSA 2010, Regulations, Transportation

The FMCSA is nominating a new agency head, Scott Darling. As part of the process, he is sitting through confirmation hearings and facing tough questions by congressmen about his agency, its mission, and its objectives. Part of this scrutiny is due to the recent reforms congress passed in the FAST Act. Many of these reforms were enacted to reign in what some feel has been a runaway agency.

The new man at the top of the agency was nominated by the president after spending a career in several different transportation-related jobs. He has been with the FMCSA since 2012, and before that worked for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Now, before he can take the job, he must pass the investigating eye of the senate.

CSA Study to Begin

One of the subjects the newly appointed agency head faced in hearings was the implementation and rework of FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program. Known as CSA, this program has been the topic of complaint from industry and lawmakers alike. The purpose of the program is to publish data about truck drivers and companies publicly, so consumers can make reasoned choices on which carrier to hire for work.

While in theory the program seems like a good idea, in practice it has introduced several hurdles to industry types. The program is supposed to track seven basic areas to rate drivers and companies on their safety. The seven areas are:

  • driving;
  • fatigued driving;
  • driver fitness;
  • alcohol and drugs;
  • vehicle maintenance;
  • cargo security; and,
  • crash history.

For each area or category a carrier is given a score. Once the score goes higher than 64, a carrier gets a warning letter from the agency indicating that they have a problem. But as you can imagine, rating a carrier on these seven areas by numerous agency employees is terribly subjective. And publishing the information can do extreme damage to a company’s reputation and ability to do business.

In its most recent legislation on the transportation industry, the congress ordered FMCSA to study the effectiveness of CSA and publish their results. Since that time FMCSA has taken down the publicly available information from CSA, and is scheduled to begin their study of the program sometime in February. Mr. Darling and other agency employees are confident that CSA will be reworked and ready after the study is done, but that will depend on lawmakers and the results of the study. For now, the industry must wait on the study before knowing which steps to take regarding CSA.

Industry Regulation

More and more the transportation industry is being regulated by bureaucrats in Washington. Small companies and big companies alike are facing changes in the way they have done business for years, and those changes cost. That is why it is so important that your company has a legal partner that can provide the guidance and counsel needed to navigate the complicated regulation that comes down from Washington. At Anderson and Yamada, P.C., our firms serves and helps transportation companies find their way in an ever more regulated industry. Contact us so we can serve your company.