FMCSA Proposes CSA Overhaul

Guest Editorial by Warren Hoemann,

Regulatory Contributor

Say “Goodbye BASICs” - they will now be called “safety categories.” And say “Goodbye IRT”, or Item Response Theory, a decades-old FMCSA concept that was too complex to implement and too slow to be useful.

Why should ICSA members care that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is once again proposing changes to the Safety Measurement System (SMS), the mathematical system used to calculate motor carrier safety ratings in the CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) program? Simply this: safety ratings are used by shippers to evaluate and select carriers to haul their freight, by FMCSA and other commercial enforcement agencies to determine which carriers need inspections or compliance audits, and by insurers to determine if you are a good safety risk. 

The changes envisioned by FMCSA are numerous and substantive – far more than the “headline” items described above to get attention. The changes deserve close carrier scrutiny, which is why FMCSA is taking major steps to help explain the proposal and solicit feedback. Meanwhile, ICSA’s regulatory contributor Warren Hoemann will be closely following the rulemaking process and will communicate key actions to members. We will cover the rulemaking in greater detail in our March Regulatory Roundup.

What should you do in the meantime? Understand that until any SMS changes are formally adopted, the current evaluation system will stay in place. One positive note is that FMCSA has specifically stated that crashes reviewed through the agency’s Crash Preventability Determination Program and found to be Not Preventable will continue to be excluded from the SMS methodology. Below are details on the comment period, a special CSA preview website and three public Q&A webinars, which we encourage members to attend. Click on any of the date links to register.

  • The public comment period is a full 90 days; comments are due by May 16, 2023.
  • FMCSA has set up a CSA Prioritization Preview website to explain the SMS changes in detail. ICSA members can log in and see how the proposal may affect their own results. The public can see a hypothetical carrier example.
  • FMCSA will hold three public Q&A webinars:

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