Editorial: Time to Fix CSA

This Editorial appears in the May 28 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

The members and leadership of American Trucking Associations have long supported the federal government’s efforts to modernize safety oversight of the nation’s trucking industry.

ATA has worked with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for years now, as the agency moved to replace the older programs that governed the industry’s operations.

Trucking has weathered the growing pains as the agency sought to put its ideas onto paper and then into effect.

For all of that time, we have continued to work with FMCSA, even as various proposals came out of the agency that were contrary to the wishes of the trucking industry.

And over time, we have found that the agency was willing to listen to the suggestions, complaints and compliments from us — the very companies most affected by their program, which is now called Compliance, Safety, Accountability.

We didn’t always get our way, by any means, but in most cases, we believed we got a fair hearing. Sometimes, FMCSA staff agreed with the industry position, and other times, they didn’t.

However, more recently we have noticed an unmistakable change in FMCSA’s attitude and interest in working with trucking.

It now has reached the stage where we find it necessary to bring the issue to a public forum.

At ATA’s leadership conference last week, we issued a statement pointing out what we see as the increasingly inflexible stance taken by FMCSA in regard to a number of outstanding issues and by some counterproductive steps the agency has taken as it fleshes out the CSA program.

ATA’s top leaders reiterated their unwavering support for the goals of CSA.

But the leaders also warned that FMCSA needs to be more responsive to the trucking industry if it expects to continue to enjoy our support for this important program.

As ATA stated after the meeting, if the program is “improved, CSA could be a powerful tool to improve trucking’s already impressive safety record. . . . But if FMCSA continues to insist on pressing forward with the program without addressing industry’s concerns, ATA will have no choice but to explore all avenues of ensuring the program is improved to actually meet its stated, and worthy, objectives.”

Let’s hope FMCSA chooses to work with the trucking industry in order to make CSA the important safety tool we believe it could be.