A driver’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score is a critical rating, a compilation of a driver's safety risk and how likely they are to be involved in big rig accidents. Until now, all violations and big rig crashes counted against a driver. Any accident they were involved in became a part of their permanent CSA record.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has made a slight change to these policies, allowing operators to dispute big rig wrecks they feel were unavoidable.
Drivers Argue CSA Rating Determination Methods Unfair
The change comes as a result of the complaints of many drivers and industry advocates who claimed the current safety measurement system was unfair. The change allows drivers to dispute some big rig wrecks that could be counted along with all accidents against the driver regardless of the cause.
Even in cases where big rig accidents were not the fault of the drivers or were unpreventable, drivers are still being penalized and their safety scores negatively affected. While most in the industry support the CSA system and feel it does help reduce big rig crashes, the need to address accountability has been a complaint from the start.
FMCSA Begins Crash Preventability Program
To address these concerns, the FMCSA recently started the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program. This program may bridge a gap in the CSA program that could unjustly affect good drivers. It is designed to give owner-operator drivers an opportunity to contest rulings in big rig wrecks that are determined by CSA standards to be preventable.
Operators who are involved in big rig accidents may now send requests for data reviews (RDRs) to the FMCSA to re-evaluate the information used to determined how a preventable ruling was made, then dispute it if they feel the ruling is incorrect.
If a ruling is changed to non-preventable, the driver’s record will show their rating both with and without that incident counting, along with a note stating that the accident was reviewed and found to be non-preventable.
Types of Crashes Considered for Re-Evaluation
The Crash Preventability Demonstration Program enables the FMCSA to change the ruling of big rig crashes based on the review of data submitted by the driver that indicates it was not preventable. Drivers may challenge rulings on the following types of big rig wrecks:
- Trucks that are struck by another driver under the influence.
- Trucks that collide with vehicles being driven in the wrong direction on the road.
- Trucks that are rear-ended.
- Trucks that are legally parked or stopped when hit by another vehicle.
- Trucks that hit a pedestrian or car if the person was attempting to commit suicide.
- Trucks that hit an animal on the road resulting in disabling damage to the truck.
- Trucks affected by falling rocks, trees, or other debris, or an infrastructure failure.
- Trucks affected by the equipment or cargo on another vehicle.
If any of these events led to an operator receiving an accident ruling of preventable yet feel the event was not preventable, the ruling may be contested.
The pilot Crash Preventability Demonstration Program to re-evaluate preventability in certain big rig accidents was effective August 1, 2017. According to the FMCSA, RDRs may be requested for any big rig crashes ruled preventable beginning on June 1, 2017.
Drivers can submit any evidence they have, including dashcam videos, insurance findings, police reports, and other evidence that may show a big rig wreck was not their fault. This information will be considered and the ruling potentially changed to non-preventable.
The hope is that this program will let the CSA offer a more true representation of driver safety without the risk of non-preventable events falsely affecting driver safety scores!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190