American Trucking Associations’ leaders expressed serious concern over the recent decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), after pressure from anti-truck groups, to continue to hold the trucking industry responsible in its CSA program for every truck-involved crash, including those which the truck driver could not have prevented.

“With FMCSA moving ahead with its CSA carrier oversight system, it is more important than ever that the agency uses not only the best data, but also common sense to ensure it is targeting the right carriers and drivers for oversight,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “By backtracking on their commitment to implement a crash accountability determination process in early 2012 to hold carriers accountable for crashes clearly caused by the actions or inactions of a truck driver, FMCSA has bowed to anti-industry interest groups and unfairly called into question the integrity of police accident reports prepared by America’s law enforcement community.”

ATA, and other industry groups, had respectfully requested--and FMCSA had agreed to develop--a process where police accident reports would be reviewed to determine crash accountability and remove non-preventable crashes from a carrier’s CSA profile. After pressure from some special interest groups that have questioned the reliability of police accident reports, FMCSA now has shelved these plans. Legitimate highway safety stakeholders know that much of this country’s traffic safety research is based on police accident reports.

FMCSA’s research and data find that when driver actions are cited as a main reason for a car-truck collision, the driver of the smaller, non-commercial vehicle is cited in a majority of cases. Under FMCSA’s “blame truck drivers first” policy, carriers have had their CSA scores elevated for these crashes, and many, many others like them: p>A December 2011 crash where the driver of a stolen SUV being pursued by police crashed into the back of a tank truck.

A January 2012 crash involving a Utah State student who was texting and Facebook messaging when she rear-ended a tank truck.

A February 2012 crash in Pennsylvania where an SUV traveling the wrong way on Interstate 70 collided with a tractor-trailer traveling in the proper direction.

A February 2012 crash in Tennessee where an SUV crossed the median of Interstate 40 and struck a tractor-trailer traveling in the opposite direction.

“Every fleet dreads word that one of their trucks and drivers has been involved in a crash,” says ATA Chairman Dan England, chairman of CR England, Salt Lake City. “Every day, companies and drivers are working hard to make sure our roads are as safe as they can be, which is why ATA has supported FMCSA in its effort to improve carrier oversight through CSA. However, we all know that not every crash involving one of our trucks can be prevented by the truck driver, so we’ve been making the common sense, reasonable request for several years that FMCSA hold us accountable for what we can prevent and not hold us accountable in the CSA program for crashes we simply cannot prevent. Unfortunately, it seems that FMCSA wants to side with special interests rather than with law enforcement and thousands of safety conscious carriers in this country.”