St. Louis Trucking Accidents: Regulator Failing on Several Fronts

Two federally-commissioned reports on a trucking safety initiative launched in 2010 were critical of several aspects, recommending numerous modifications in order for the program to be more effective.

truck1

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration unveiled the Compliance Safety Accountability program with the promise of improving commercial truck and bus safety. However, our St. Louis truck accident lawyers understand that recent analysis has found efforts fallen short.

Throughout Missouri, news teams have reported a series of injury-causing semi crashes recently. One of those, in Joplin, involved a trucker on Interstate-44 who ran his rig off the road around 4 a.m. as he traveled eastbound, causing the trailer to overturn in the median. No one else was hit, but the 51-year-old driver reportedly sustained serious injuries. Authorities are investigating whether the driver may have been overly-fatigued at the time.

It’s incidents like this that the CSA specifically seeks to help prevent, by improving data collection to identify unsafe carriers and poor drivers so that federal inspections and enforcement efforts can be more targeted. Carriers and drivers that score poorly would, in theory, receive greater scrutiny.

It’s estimated that large trucks and buses are involved in approximately 125,000 crashes annually. However, audits from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, indicate more must be done to reach this goal.

First, the OIG report:

The report was commissioned amid concern that the CSA program was only tracking 200,000 carriers, which is less than half of the total 525,000 active carriers. Even though these carriers were deemed to be the most dangerous, accounting for 93 percent of all crashes, there was grave concern over the accuracy of the data CSA was collecting.

The OIG report found not only problems with data collection, but overall enforcement efforts. In fact, only 10 states had fully implemented CSA enforcement interventions at the time of the report. The remaining 41 states (including D.C.) were still waiting for the CSA to issue the software and appropriate training required to view and monitor the recommended interventions. Because of this limited implementation, the effectiveness of the enforcement program couldn’t even be weighed by the OIG.

Additionally, the auditors found problems with the way states were reporting crashes. While the CSA required states to report all of their trucking crashes within a three-month window, about 20 percent of states didn’t provide this information within the allotted time. The delay was blamed on software issues.

The report also took issue with the self-reported data submitted by carriers, where data was often missing or outdated, leading to incorrect calculations of certain carriers’ overall safety ratings.

Then there was the GAO report. The GAO noted that the CSA relies heavily on carrier performance data collected from inspectors and crash investigations in order to pinpoint carriers who are at high risk and require a greater level of intervention. The problem. according to the GAO, is that they way the information is gathered leads to accuracy issues.

The CSA uses a system called the Safety Measurement System in order to score the relative safety of any given carrier as compared to other carriers. However, the way the scores are tabulated, smaller carriers tend to receive higher risk ratings because they have less comparable data than larger carriers. Not only is this potentially harmful to the economic bottom line of smaller carriers that unfairly receive lower scores, it doesn’t help regulators or consumers accurately identify those agencies that truly pose a greater risk.

Several improvement measures were proposed by both the GAO and the OIG, and it’s expected that these issues will be revisited in the near future to see if they’ve been corrected.

More Blog Entries:
St. Louis Ranks on the “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report”, Sept. 18, 2013, St. Louis Truck Accident Lawyer Blog

The following two tabs change content below.

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

Latest posts by Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC (see all)