The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released findings from a study it conducted, which revealed that state enforcement disparities create uneven safety playing fields for carriers that have different operating patterns and mileage exposure in the lower 48 states. It also discovered that there are different priorities and violation issuance rates across states that dramatically undermine the uniformity of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program, which is supposedly a standardized safety assessment program. However, ATRI discovered that just by simply crossing into an adjoining state, carrier basic scores can change markedly.
For example, ATRI’s model calculated one carrier’s hours-of-service (HOS) percentile decreasing by 4.2 points, but their Vehicle Maintenance percentile increasing by 12.2 points if state violation rates were normalized. Finally, based on two nationally recognized violation lists most closely associated with future crash risk, ATRI’s research documents considerable variability in state emphasis on those violations that generate the greatest safety benefit.
Research findings generate from four specific tasks:
- State Data Metrics Compendium, which compares and contrasts several dozen safety and operational metrics for the lower 48 states;
- Relating Violations to Crash Risk Analysis reveals that while certain violations have a stronger relationship to crash risk, these violations may not be equitably emphasized across states;
- State Enforcement Objective Case Studies evaluate the impact of six specific state enforcement priorities on actual safety outcomes; and
- Carrier Case Studies quantify the impact of state enforcement disparities on specific motor carrier safety measures within the Safety Measurement System (SMS), based on an ATRI-developed model that assesses the impact that standardizing state enforcement activities would have on SMS scores across seven carriers.
According to Brett Sant, Knight Transportation’s vice president of safety and risk management and a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee, “ATRI’s study unequivocally quantifies what we know is a serious defect in the CSA scoring system that carrier safety performance as represented by BASIC scores can be dramatically impacted by the states in which a carrier operates based on nothing more than the states’ varying enforcement priorities. Until these disparities are rectified, peer-based comparisons within CSA’s scoring system will continue to be flawed and of little value as a tool for monitoring carrier and driver safety performance unless accounted for properly.”
A copy of the study results is available at the ATRI website.