FMCSA Commercial Trucking Raw Data Restored to Public View After Months of Being Hidden
Trucking companies, consumers, businesses looking to hire a trucking firm, and others need information to make informed decisions regarding the companies they work with. This is why many businesses came to rely on the commercial trucking data made available on Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website. Unfortunately, in early December 2015, this Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) data was removed as part of FMCSA’s efforts to comply with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. For many firms seeking to hire a trucking company, contract managers likened the loss of this information to picking a carrier blindfolded. However, many trucking companies had long campaigned for this data to be removed from public view.
After a brief victory for certain trucking firms that didn’t want this data available, the raw data has now returned to FMCSA’s website. Let’s look at what information this CSA contained, why trucking companies wanted it removed from public view, and why the information was restored.
What Types of Information Is Included in the FMCSA Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Data?
Originally, the CSA information compiled and presented by FMCSA on its Safety Measurement Systems (SMS) website included both absolute and relative data for commercial freight and passenger carriers. The FAST Act did not change the requirements or ability to display certain data relating to passenger-carrying commercial trucking companies. The Act did, however, make changes to the availability of data for relative data regarding commercial freight carrier safety and compliance records. The removal of data included the delete of data known as BASICS (Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category).
Following the passage of the FAST Act, all data was removed as NHTSA passed and made “appropriate changes.” A Congressional Committee report indicated that FMCSA was required to undertake a “thorough review and reform of the current enforcement prioritization program to ensure that FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability analysis is the most reliable possible for the public and for enforcement purposes. … the Act requires that FMCSA analysis of enforcement data be temporarily removed from public websites on the day after enactment until the agency has completed reforms required by this Act.”
Why Did Trucking Firms Argue that the Data Should Be Removed from the Web?
Trucking firms had long argued against the inclusion of the data in the belief that the information was misleading and being exploited by plaintiffs in court cases against trucking companies. During the debate over the reliability of the data The Transportation Intermediaries Association, an industry group claimed that “Today’s CSA is not only unreliable but is proven useless for commercial carrier selection purposes.” Thus, carriers argued that much of the most relativistic data was based on flawed methodology and was unproven to accurately reflect a trucking companies actual safety. Many motor carriers feel that poor relative ranks were costing the company money in lost business and by providing apparent evidence of increased risk when doing business with the firm.
What Type of Trucking Safety Information Was Restored to the Site?
While FMCSA had pulled all data from its website regarding property-carrying commercial trucking firms, the FAST act does require property carriers’ absolute data to be made available to the public. The absolute measures are produced directly from safety data and are not relativistic in nature like a percentage that compares an organization to other carriers.
According to the SMS website, “Property carrier data available to the public includes inspection and crash data, investigation results, and measures for all public Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), however, the Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials Compliance BASICs remain hidden from public view.” FMCSA now claims that the SMS site is fully compliant with all relevant standards including the FAST Act. While certain data remains hidden from the public, motor carriers, and others with valid log-in credentials can still log-in to the site to see the additional information.