Trucking companies in West Virginia and around the country were likely pleased when Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. In addition to earmarking funds to improve the nation’s road system, the 2015 bill required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to revise its Compliance, Safety and Accountability program. The program, which assigns carriers safety scores based on a number of criteria, was criticized by trade groups for using incomplete data and providing the public with misleading information.
The FMCSA released a proposal to reform the CSA program in 2015, but a report published by the agency on July 4 indicates that this strategy has now been sidelined in favor of guidelines from the National Academies of Science. Most experts applaud the change in direction because the NAS advocates using item response theory, which analyzes data more thoroughly and takes more variables into account.
The FMCSA is said to be adding an absolute scoring component to the CSA program. The current system flags possible safety issues by comparing carriers to each other, but absolute scoring would allow them to be rated on their data alone. The agency also says that it will endeavor to gather more complete information about the journeys made by commercial vehicles and the truck accidents they are involved in by working closely with state legislators, law enforcement and the logistics industry.
Trucking companies that fail to address safety issues in a timely manner place road users in danger, and they can face both official sanctions and civil lawsuits when their reckless behavior causes accidents and injuries. When records checks reveal that truck owners were aware of dangerous conditions but took no action to remedy them, experienced personal injury attorneys may seek punitive as well as compensatory damages in lawsuits filed on behalf of those who suffered injuries as a result.