Compliance Corner: CSA Changes: Flatbed Carriers Get Less Scrutiny, Hazmat Carriers Get More Scrutiny

After nearly a nine-month preview and two official notices in the Federal Register, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has gone ahead with possibly the most significant update to the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program so far. FMCSA implemented 11 changes to CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS), which FMCSA says will enhance the agency’s ability to identify and take action against trucks and buses with safety and compliance concerns.

A new Hazmat (HM) BASIC includes regulation violations relating to packaging, transporting, identifying, and communicating hazardous materials information. More than 100 new hazmat violations were added to the list of hazmat violations that already existed in the previous Cargo-Related BASIC, bringing the total to almost 350 hazmat violations being tracked in CSA’s SMS. Motor carriers and law enforcement can view the HM BASIC right now, but the HM BASIC won’t be available to the general public for at least a year.

Other changes to the SMS include:

  • Moving non-hazmat cargo securement violations that were previously contained in the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. Cargo securement violation severity ratings were lowered as well.
  • Counting intermodal equipment violations that drivers should have found during pretrip inspections.
  • Removing speeding violations that are 1-5 miles over the speed limit in order to be consistent with speedometer regulations, which require that speedometers be accurate within 5 mph. This change was also applied to the prior 24 months’ worth of data in the SMS. A few other violations were dropped as well.
  • Changing the name of the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately describe violations contained within the BASIC.
  • Using the same severity weighting for paper and electronic logbook violations to be consistent.
  • Not recording and scoring in the SMS vehicle violations discovered during “driver-only inspections” and driver violations discovered during “vehicle-only inspections.”

Other changes included refinements to the definitions of passenger carrier and hazmat carrier for purposes of the CSA program, using more descriptive words for terms like “insufficient” and “inconclusive,” and separating out injury and fatality crashes in the Crash BASIC.

Let’s go a little further into the hazmat and cargo securement changes.

Hazmat Transportation

Transporters of hazardous materials got the brunt of the changes in CSA’s scoring methodology. First of all, FMCSA eased up on the definition of an HM carrier. In order to be held to the tighter HM carrier standards in CSA, two HM roadside inspections must have taken place, with at least one having taken place in the last 12 months. Also, HM inspections must account for at least 5 percent of the carrier’s inspections. An inspection is considered an “HM inspection” if the vehicle was transporting an amount or type of hazardous material that required placarding.

The new HM BASIC uses HM violations, which are time and severity weighted, and HM inspections to calculate a carrier’s BASIC Measure. That BASIC Measure is then compared to other carriers’ HM BASIC Measures to arrive at the carrier’s score in the HM BASIC.

Following are examples of violations in the HM BASIC, along with the severity rating (10 is the most severe rating):

Section

Description

Severity

172.201(a)(1)

Hazardous Materials not distinguished from non-Hazardous Materials

3

172.201(a)(3)

Hazardous Materials description contains abbreviation or code

3

172.201(d)

ER phone number not listed

3

172.202(a)(1)

Improper shipping name

3

172.202(a)(2)

Improper hazard class

3

172.202(b)

Basic description not in proper sequence

3

172.202(e)

Non-Hazardous Material entered with class or ID#

3

172.203(b)

Limited quantity not shown

3

172.203(c)(2)

RQ not on shipping paper

3

172.203(k)

No technical name for nos entry

3

172.300

Failing to comply with marking requirements

5

172.301

Non-bulk package marking — general

5

172.302

Marking requirements bulk packagings

5

172.402

Failing to affix additional labels when required

5

172.502(a)(1)

Prohibited placarding

5

172.514(b)

Bulk package with residue of HM not properly placarded

5

172.519

Placard does not meet specifications

5

173.24(c)

Unauthorized packaging

10

173.24(f)(1)

Closures for packagings must not be open or leaking

10

173.315(a)

Cargo or portable tank Class 2 exceeds maximum filling density

10

177.817

Shipping papers required

3

177.834

Load securement of different HM packages

6

178.337—9

Pressure relief devices MC331

8

180.352(d)

IBC retest date marking

7

397.5(a)

Unattended explosives 1.1/1.2/1.3

6

397.5(c)

Unattended hazmat vehicle

4

Vehicle Maintenance and Cargo Securement

Non-hazmat cargo securement violations were moved to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC and severity weightings were brought down.

Improper load securement violations that had a severity rating of 10 in the Cargo-Related BASIC now have a rating of 7 in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. Tiedown, failure to prevent movement, and other cargo securement violations that were an 8 in the Cargo-Related BASIC are now a 3 in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. General securement and securement equipment violations that were rated as a 7 are now a 1.

What’s Next for CSA?

The December changes are by no means that last ones we’ll see for CSA. FMCSA is already working on the next round of changes expected within the next year. FMCSA is examining major changes to the violation severity weights, to the recalibration of the utilization factor used to figure “vehicle miles traveled” for the Crash Indicator and Unsafe Driving BASICs, and to the safety event groups in all the BASICs. FMCSA is also continuing to examine several issues with the Crash BASIC.

Motor carriers are encouraged to check their safety data at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms to see how the SMS changes may have affected their SMS results. For complete details on the new SMS improvements, visit the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) website at http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

About the Author: Betty Weiland – Sr. Manager, Transportation Safety for J.J. Keller & Associates Inc.

Betty Weiland is Sr. Manager — Transportation Publishing for J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Contact her at transporteditors@jjkeller.com. Also be sure to check out J. J. Keller’s website at jjkeller.com.

 Copyright 2011 J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.®, P.O. Box 368, 3003 Breezewood Lane, Neenah, WI 54957. Copied by permission. This article was originally published in Driving Force, February 2013.

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