The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Safety Measurement System (SMS) states:
“There are 5 million truck and bus drivers sharing the road with more than 250 million motorists. With stakes so high, it’s essential that everyone Get Road Smart. We can’t do it without you.”
The “you” the FMCSA is referring to is trucking and bus carriers and their drivers. In other words, trucking and bus safety relies upon the ability and willingness of trucking and bus carriers take seriously the safety standards set forth by the FMSCA.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
As part of the SMS, the FMCSA created a program for the measurement of carrier performance on the road. The program is called “Compliance, Safety, Accountability” (CSA). CSA measures carrier performance in much the same way that a plaintiff’s attorney would measure performance following a trucking accident involving injuries to the client. In fact, the CSA is of great benefit to trucking accident victims and their attorneys since it lays out both the standards that motor carriers are held to as well as the scores for individual carriers. The CSA along with safety measurements for all carriers licensed under the FMCSA can be found at the CSA website https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
Roadside Inspection and Crash Data Provide Measures for CSA
The data used for the CSA measurements comes from roadside inspections and crash data. The roadside inspections apply to the carrier, the individual driver and the specific truck or bus under inspection. The goal of the CSA is to identify unsafe carriers, trucks and buses and drivers for the purpose of improving road highway safety for all those on the road. The crash data is collected by law enforcement which should then be turned over to the FMCSA.
The CSA involves what might appear to be complicated weighing of different measures of carrier safety. However, when it is boiled down to its essence, it is pretty straightforward. First, the CSA collects the carrier’s safety events from the roadside inspection and crash data. The CSA then categorizes these safety events into a number of categories reflecting carrier and driver safety. The carrier safety measurement categories are referred to as “Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories” or BASICs for short.
The BASICs include numerous behaviors of both carriers and drivers that create safety risks.
Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).
The safety events as identified by roadside inspections and crash data are assigned to different categories or groups of risk. Each risk is assigned weights or numerical values. The reason for this is that there are some safety events and/or behaviors that create greater risk than others. This can be seen by the general BASICs categories:
- Unsafe driving,
- Hours of Service Compliance,
- Driver Fitness,
- Controlled Substances or Alcohol,
- Vehicle Maintenance,
- Hazardous Material (HM) Compliance,
- Crash Indicators.
Within each of these categories, the CMS sets forth numerous non-exclusive behaviors that increase safety risks. These behaviors, also called violations, are then weighed. For instance, in the unsafe driving category, reckless driving is given more weight than simple speeding. On the other hand, excessive speeding can constitute recklessness under both the New Mexico Motor Vehicle code and in New Mexico Uniform Jury instructions defining recklessness.
Truck and Bus Safety Critical to Save Lives
As noted at the outset, there are over 5 million trucks and buses sharing the roads with 250 million motorists. Truckers on the whole are much better and safer drivers than the public at large. On the other hand, when an accident does occur involving a truck or bus and a family vehicle, the results are typically catastrophic and life-threatening for those in the on the other end of the collision. And although most carriers and drivers do their best to conform to the FMCSA safety standards, there are those that don’t and then there are those that slip from time to time.
Whether the accident involves a carrier or driver that simply does not follow the safety standards or a driver that slips on occasion, the consequences are almost always disastrous for whoever happens to be in the other vehicle.
Careful Dealing with Trucking and Busing Companies Following an Accident
These cases are complex and they move very fast from the second the accident happens. The carrier will have their people on the scene immediately. This is not out of concern for the injured drivers but for the avoidance of responsibility. They are not there to help. They are there to collect, manipulate and conceal evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the carrier and to a lesser degree the driver. This means the injured victims need their people involved from the outset as well to prevent or minimize the misbehavior of the investigators sent out by the carrier.
The bottom line is this is not a do it yourself type of legal case. Anyone seriously injured in a trucking or busing accident needs legal representation and they need it immediately. Delay can be highly detrimental to recovery for the injuries and other harms resulting from a truck or bus crash.