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December 3, 2012 3:00 PM, EST
CSA Changes Take Effect

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Monday that, effective immediately, it has activated previously announced changes to its Safety Measurement System ratings program, including adoption of its controversial proposal to step up hazardous materials compliance and elimination of a perceived enforcement bias against flatbed carriers.

In a teleconference call Monday, FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro said the agency’s website now reflects a total of 11 changes to Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, including creation of a stand-alone hazardous materials compliance carrier rating category and rolling cargo-securement violations into the vehicle maintenance category.

FMCSA said when it first unveiled the changes in August that the CSA tweaks would only cause “modest” changes to carriers’ safety-rating scores, but that that would be “enough to sharpen our focus on the carriers that need our focus.”

“These safety measurement system enhancements reflect FMCSA’s commitment to listening to our stakeholders and researching and analyzing enhancements in the name of safety,” Ferro said. “By strengthening our cornerstone enforcement program, we are continuing to raise the bar for truck and bus safety.”

Other changes included changing the name of the Fatigued Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, to the hours-of-service (HOS) Compliance BASIC, removing 1-to-5 mile-per-hour speeding violations from carrier and driver safety scores, and assigning the same CSA severity weights to paper logs and electronic logging device violations.

The changes are being applied as of Monday to FMCSA’s monthly update of carriers’ SMS scores. The agency generally updates carriers’ scores on or about the 21st of each month, but chose to update the December scores early using the newly uploaded changes.