Data reflecting a motor carrier’s safety history is presently available to the general public by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA generates a carrier’s score through this data, compiled in its “Safety Measurement System” (SMS), which incorporates the results of roadside inspections and other safety-based violations – also known as “Compliance, Safety, Accountability” (CSA) data. Amongst other things, a motor carrier’s rating is influenced by unsafe driving practices (evidenced by moving violation history), hours of service violations, vehicle maintenance/condition violations, and other issues which pose significant risks to the motoring public. Access to these data points provides the public with a snapshot of a company’s safety record, thus arming industry watchdog groups and persons/companies seeking to hire a motor carrier with highly valuable information. This, in turn, applies social & industry pressure to improve the trucking industry’s overall compliance with important safety measures. By improving one’s ability to identify target disreputable and unsafe motor carriers, access to SMS data serves to reduce the risk presented to everyone using the public highways. (An overview of the SMS system can be found here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/basics.aspx )
Access to a carrier’s CSA data through SMS can provide an important and often vital resource to those seeking to improve public safety, hire reputable motor carriers, and to obtain justice. The data is reliable. It is generated by the government based upon each carrier’s actual violation history. All good things. So why is the “Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance” (CVSA), a trucking industry group, now seeking to hide CSA data from public view? That’s right. Stephen Keppler, CVSA’s Executive Director, has presented U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, with a written request seeking removal of CSA carrier data from public view. According to the letter, the CVSA’s “stakeholders” are concerned that “inconsistent enforcement” practices between jurisdictions may affect the “accuracy” of a carrier’s safety rating. This position is ridiculous. A carrier’s score is based upon actual violation data. If a carrier wishes to improve its rating, it need only improve its compliance.
As a trucking lawyer in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and safety advocate, I sincerely hope that Mr. Foxx and the FMCSA see through Mr. Keppler’s ruse and reject this blatant effort to hide this important safety information from the public.