A character on the 1980s television police drama “Hill Street Blues” had a great catchphrase: “Let’s Be Careful Out There.”
On the show, Sgt. Phillip Esterhaus was imparting these words of caution to officers policing the streets. But they’re also words that ring true today for those who make their living traveling the highways.
As readers likely know, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability system is under review; in particular, the framework that underpins the system, which is used to assign scores that rate safety performance of carriers and drivers.
Many in trucking have taken issue with variances in how violations are assigned and, as a result, how scores are compiled. Let’s hope the review — informed by a report from the National Academies of Sciences — addresses these concerns, because in the short time that CSA has been in effect, it’s had a significant effect on the industry.
For one thing, CSA data is used by insurance companies to assign risk and, by extension, determine rates. From a business perspective, the outcome of the ongoing review could have a big impact on carriers’ insurance costs. The cover feature of this week’s issue of Transport Topics explores the subject. (READ: Like Motor Carriers, Truck Insurers Await Changes to Federal CSA Program.)
But keeping the roads safe is what CSA is all about. While the program has room for improvement, it has since its launch in 2010 elevated the issue of highway safety, and that’s good for everyone on the road. Professional truck drivers always have taken pride in proclaiming their total safe-driving miles, as they should. Fleets, too, take pride in running safe operations.
But rules and enforcement help ensure everyone is held to a high standard. Proper enforcement is key, but the right rules must first be in place. FMCSA is to be commended for doing the hard work to make the program better.
The agency is aiming to announce its updates to CSA next year, and we’re optimistic it will come through with an improved program. Until it does — and after it does — safety should, of course, remain a priority. Regulations ensure everyone has rules to follow, but responsible operators know it just makes good sense to be careful out there.