Block Truck Safety Records or Keep Them Public?

Posted by Melissa Bennett | April 17, 2015 | blog

A new bill is proposed that would remove Truck Safety Scores from the public domain.

Right now, every time a truck in your fleet gets cited for a violation-no matter how small- that information gets logged into a federal database.

The database is available to the public. Each citation negatively affects your CSA score.  Potential customers use that score to determine which company they are going to use to ship their products. They may not get all the details of what  each the violation was. Did one of your trucks cause a 15 car pileup, or did they simply forget to buckle up? As it stands now, there is no distinction between the two at first glance. This can seriously damage the reputation of an otherwise safe company.

 So what do our law makers propose we do about this?

A new bill has been proposed that would temporarily take the record off of the public domain. The citation procedures would then be changed to make the database more fair to small companies and small infraction citations. The scores currently do not reflect either the severity of the infraction or the individuals responsible for the citation. For instance, if a trucker gets a citation for running a red light, the company he or she was driving for will get docked, even if that company fires the driver the next day. If a new company picks that driver up in a few weeks, the new company will suffer no point losses for taking on the cited driver.

Safety Advocates say that since the large truck crashes have increased in recent years ( 3,802 crashes in 2012) the safety protocols should stay in place.

If you look at the numbers, put out by the NRD in 2012, the numbers show a very clear decrease in truck related accidents.




The CSA system was created in 2010, so if it was indeed having a positive effect on the system, you would expect to see the downward slope steepen after 2010. Instead of seeing the graph get more steep, it changes direction in 2010.  We see the sharpest rise in truck related accidents in a single year since the records began.  It could be a coincidence due to other factors, but the argument that making the records public has helped decrease accidents simply can’t be backed up with data.






Objections to making the CSA system say that the fact that safety is being brought into the conversation can only be a good thing. John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, says the FSMA knows which companies to target because of the CSA. Not only this,  but they know which specific things need to be inspected instead of performing a full scale audit. Lannen states that the scores from the CSA data are accurate, if not exactly perfect. He warns policy makers to “not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”


No matter how violently opposed the two sides are about the public access to the CMA, both side agree that the system, as it stands, has plenty of room for improvement. The problems with the system will be addressed in the bill, but discussion on that has not begun. The question is: Will they make the records private while they are ironing out the details?



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