As part of our ATA-organized visit to select Congressional leaders involved in trucking safety regulation, key members of our Executive Leadership team met with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and his team on April 11 in Washington, DC. Senator Gardner sits on Commerce Committee (oversees transportation) and the Transportation & Safety subcommittee. During the meeting both parties left wanting to continue the conversation and to build a deeper relationship.
On Friday July 12th, it was SambaSafety’s honor to host the Senator and continue our discussions on the critical issue of transportation safety. Senator Gardner met our talented Denver team and discussed our innovations leveraging data to help enhance the safety culture of our customers.
SambaSafety has been dedicated to the safety of drivers and communities for decades. To that end, we’ve been meeting with select congressional leaders who are directly involved in trucking safety regulation. Based on his background, Senator Gardner is uniquely positioned to make an impact on the regulations that will directly affect commercial truckers all over Colorado and nationwide.
Senator Gardner has also regarded transportation and infrastructure as high priorities throughout his tenure, emphasizing investment in infrastructure as crucial to supporting a growing economy. Colorado boasts one of the largest airports in the world, as well as major hubs for several national shipping companies, so Senator Gardner has always known the importance of shipping infrastructure for our state.
The Need for Transportation Safety CSA Reform
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to better align the compliance and reporting process with the safety risks that actually cause crashes. An independent review found that while the CSA program is doing its job, it has not been able to keep up with the volume of truckers that it needs to oversee.
As a result, 86 percent of carriers nationwide do not receive a safety score from the FMCSA under the current CSA scoring system.
Upcoming Changes to the CSA System
In a report from the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, it was noted that the current CSA system used inconsistent assessments, didn’t always account for fault in crashes, used measures that were independent to specific states, and was not predictive of a carrier’s future risk.
As a result, the panel recommended a new, “more statistically principled approach” based on item response theory (IRT), which has been used in analyzing SAT tests, hospital rankings, and other large-scale statistical analysis.
In July of 2018, the FMCSA released a new plan for the CSA program, based on an IRT model. The details of the plan have not been released to the public, but SambaSafety’s own executive VP and GM of Transportation, Steve Bryan, has been sitting in on every meeting of the NAS panel as it develops its recommendations.
The main takeaway lesson has been that predicting future crashes is nearly impossible. “The existing CSA program is about predicting crash risk,” Bryan said. “None of us believe that ever worked. It does a terrible job. In some of the BASICs, some are not only not positively correlated, they’re negatively correlated, specifically the drug and alcohol BASIC — to where if you followed that logic, you should drink and smoke dope and get behind the wheel of a truck.”
Instead, the research indicates, carriers should focus on a culture of safe driving. Carriers will be analyzed based on patterns of unsafe behavior, rather than the much-maligned severity weight system that ranked carriers based on comparisons to their peers and recency of offenses.
It was an honor to host and continue the conversation about transportation safety with Senator Gardner. Not only was the conversation productive with regard to policy, but also a welcome opportunity to showcase our talent, our products, and our team.