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ATRI: CSA Ratings Improve When Excluding non-Preventable Crashes

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released its latest research into the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance Safety and Accountability (CSA) program which reveals that excluding “non-preventable crashes” from the data decreases the Crash Indicator BASIC by nearly 15 percent.

In this analysis – called “Assessing the Impact of Non-Preventable Crashes on CSA Scores” –ATRI investigated the effect of excluding non-preventable crashes on scores FMCSA keeps about how likely a fleet is to be involved in a future crash.

Carrier companies and groups like the American Trucking Associations have been urging the FMCSA to make changes to its Compliance, Safety, Accountability scoring system by removing crashes not caused by trucking companies or their drivers. The FMCSA currently includes all types crashes in its CSA scoring, factoring in accidents not caused by a commercial vehicle.

Specifically, ATRI analyzed carrier crash records, mapped to FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database, to identify “a small and non-controversial subset of non-preventable crashes” with five primary causes:

  1. Animal collision
  2. Other vehicle hits legally parked truck
  3. Other vehicle runs a stop light/sign and hits a truck
  4. Driver of other vehicle was DUI
  5. Truck-assisted suicide

The ATRI analysis then removed these crashes and “recalculated” the “crash indicator measure” in the CSA program, showing a nearly 15 percent drop.

“The trucking industry has identified a number of flaws in FMCSA’s calculation of carrier safety performance through the CSA BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) and perhaps none is more egregious than the inclusion of non-preventable crashes in the Crash Indicator BASIC,” said Scott Mugno, a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee as well as vice president of safety and maintenance for FedEx Ground. “ATRI’s latest analysis, using a very conservative definition of non-preventable crashes, demonstrates just how skewed FMCSA’s BASIC calculations can be.”

Beyond CSA BASIC score impacts, these non-preventable crashes exact a toll on motor carriers and commercial drivers, according to ATRI.

The analysis also found that:

  • Non-preventable crashes comprise the majority of the sample. “Therefore, a broader definition of preventability than the five primary causes used in this report, such as the one utilized by the FMCSA, would likely result in dramatic changes to Crash BASIC measures.
  • Small differences in Crash BASIC measures result in significantly different percentile rankings, with our sample having a maximum range of 11 percentage points for the same FMCSA-provided score.
  • The composition of preventable and non-preventable crashes varies across carriers. A Crash BASIC that only considers preventable crashes would affect carriers differently.
  • Small changes in Crash BASIC measures result in significant changes to Crash BASIC percentile rankings, given the range of percentile rankings resulting from a single FMCSA-reported score and the varied composition of preventable and non-preventable crashes across carriers.
  • Assigning preventability could also rectify issues beyond the Crash BASIC, such as carrier costs, insurance premiums and driver safety records.

The authors added that ATRI, to better quantify the impact of non-preventable crashes on the trucking industry, will continue its work with trucking and insurance industry stakeholders “to identify and mine additional crash and financial data sources. This Phase 2 activity will attempt to develop a cost/benefit analysis on an expanded population of non-preventable crash types.”

A copy of the report is available from ATRI.

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