Panel on the Review of the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability
(CSA) Program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Transportation Research Board
A Consensus Study Report of
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This activity was supported by Award No. DTMC7516C0001 from the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Support of the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation, a cooperative agreement from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and several individual contracts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-46201-3
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Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/24818
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Improving Motor Carrier Safety Measurement. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/24818.
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PANEL ON THE REVIEW OF THE COMPLIANCE, SAFETY, AND ACCOUNTABILITY (CSA) PROGRAM OF THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION
JOEL B. GREENHOUSE (Cochair), Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University
SHARON-LISE NORMAND (Cochair), Department of Biostatistics and Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
MICHAEL BELZER, Department of Economics, Wayne State University
DAN BLOWER, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
LINDA BOYLE, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington
MICHAEL DANIELS, Department of Statistics and Data Sciences, University of Texas at Austin
DON HEDEKER, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Chicago
BRENDA LANTZ, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, North Dakota State University
DAN MCCAFFREY, Educational Testing Service
BRISA SANCHEZ, Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan
ROBERT SCOPATZ, VHB, Inc.
JUNED SIDDIQUE, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
MICHAEL L. COHEN, Costudy Director
ESHA SINHA, Costudy Director
RICK PAIN, Consultant
JACOB SPERTUS, Consultant
ANDREW YARGER, Consultant
AGNES GASKIN, Administrative Assistant
MICHAEL J. SIRI, Program Coordinator
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
LAWRENCE D. BROWN (Chair), Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
FRANCINE BLAU, Department of Economics, Cornell University
MARY ELLEN BOCK, Department of Statistics, Purdue University
MICHAEL E. CHERNEW, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
JANET M. CURRIE, Department of Economics, Princeton University
DON A. DILLMAN, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, Washington State University
CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University
JAMES S. HOUSE, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
THOMAS L. MESENBOURG, U.S. Census Bureau (retired)
SUSAN A. MURPHY, Department of Statistics and Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
SARAH M. NUSSER, Office of the Vice President for Research and Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
COLM A. O’MUIRCHEARTAIGH, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago
RUTH D. PETERSON, Criminal Justice Research Center, The Ohio State University
ROBERTO RIGOBON, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EDWARD H. SHORTLIFFE, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University and Arizona State University
TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD 2017 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
JAMES M. CRITES (Chair), Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport, Texas
PAUL TROMBINO III (Vice Chair), Iowa Department of Transportation, Ames
NEIL J. PEDERSEN (Executive Director), Transportation Research Board
VICTORIA A. ARROYO, Georgetown Climate Center and Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC
SCOTT E. BENNETT, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Little Rock
JENNIFER COHAN, Delaware Department of Transportation, Dover
MALCOLM DOUGHERTY, California Department of Transportation, Sacramento
A. STEWART FOTHERINGHAM, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe
JOHN S. HALIKOWSKI, Arizona Department of Transportation, Phoenix
MICHAEL W. HANCOCK, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Frankfort
SUSAN HANSON, Graduate School of Geography (emerita), Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts
STEVE HEMINGER, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Oakland, California
CHRIS T. HENDRICKSON, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JEFFREY D. HOLT, Power, Energy, and Infrastructure Group, BMO Capital Markets Corporation, New York
ROGER B. HUFF, HGLC, LLC, Farmington Hills, Michigan
GERALDINE KNATZ, Sol Price School of Public Policy, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
YSELA LLORT, Miami, Florida
JAMES P. REDEKER, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Newington
MARK L. ROSENBERG, The Task Force for Global Health, Inc., Decatur, Georgia
KUMARES C. SINHA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
DANIEL SPERLING, Department of Civil Engineering, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis
KIRK T. STEUDLE, Michigan Department of Transportation, Lansing
GARY C. THOMAS, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas, Texas
PAT THOMAS, State Government Affairs, UPS, Washington, DC
KATHERINE F. TURNBULL, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, College Station
DEAN WISE, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Fort Worth, Texas
THOMAS P. BOSTICK, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC
JAMES C. CARD, TRB Marine Board, The Woodlands, Texas
ALISON JANE CONWAY, Department of Civil Engineering, City College of New York, New York, and TRB Young Members Council
T.F. SCOTT DARLING III, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
MARIE THERESE DOMINGUEZ, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
SARAH FEINBERG, Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
LEROY GISHI, Division of Transportation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior
JOHN T. GRAY II, Policy and Economics, Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC
MICHAEL P. HUERTA, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
PAUL N. JAENICHEN, SR., Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
THERESE W. MCMILLAN, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
MICHAEL P. MELANIPHY, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC
GREGORY G. NADEAU, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
MARK R. ROSEKIND, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
CRAIG A. RUTLAND, U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida
REUBEN SARKAR, U.S. Department of Energy
BARRY R. WALLERSTEIN, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Diamond Bar, California
GREGORY D. WINFREE, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
FREDERICK G. (BUD) WRIGHT, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, DC
PAUL F. ZUKUNFT, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
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To begin, the panel is grateful to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for providing the funds that made this study possible. We are particularly indebted to Joseph DeLorenzo, director, Office of Enforcement and Compliance, FMCSA, who provided three enormously useful presentations to the panel on various aspects of the Compliance, Safety Accountability Safety Measurement System (CSA/SMS), set up a meeting at FMCSA to learn more about the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database, and helped identify stakeholders for various aspects of the workings of SMS. It is difficult to imagine how the panel could have functioned as well as it did without his inputs and assistance. Jack Van Steenburg and Scott Valentine of FMCSA also provided the panel with excellent presentations, and FMCSA staff in general, including Martin Walker and Albert Alvarez, provided us with several technical reports and answered a number of questions on various aspects of CSA/SMS. We would also like to call out Olu Ajayi of FMCSA’s Research Division and Dee Williams of the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, who were very forthcoming in answering many queries related to MCMIS, including during a meeting at FMCSA in December 2016, all of which greatly facilitated our use of the MCMIS database.
The panel also wishes to thank the presenters during our three information-gathering meetings. They included Steve Bryan (Vigillo), Chris Burroughs (Transportation Intermediaries Association), Cary Catapano (National School Transportation Association), Tom DiSalvi
(Schneider National), Jacqueline Duley (Engility Corporation), James Edwards (National Association of Small Trucking Companies), Jean Gardner (Central Analysis Bureau), Jay Grimes (Independent Drivers Association), H. Brandon Haller (U.S. Government Accountability Office), Julie Heckman (American Pyrotechnic Association), John Lannen (Truck Safety Coalition), Collin Mooney (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance), Daniel Murray (American Transportation Research Institute), Don Osterberg (retired, Schneider National), Ken Presley (United Motorcoach Association), Andria Sequin (Schneider National), Irwin Shires (Panther Premium), Rudolph Supina (DATTCO), Eric Teoh (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), Jeff M. Tessin (U.S. Government Accountability Office), Pat Thomas (United Parcel Service), William Voss (International Civil Aviation Organization), Tom Weakley (Independent Drivers Association), Ann Williamson (University of New South Wales), and Shuie Yankelewitz (Central Analysis Bureau). Collin Mooney also provided a set of examples used in Chapter 6 and the photograph used in the cover to the report. All of these individuals spent a great deal of their time preparing these presentations to advance the panel’s work. We would also like to thank Becky Weber (Prime Policy), who helped identify stakeholders for our second panel meeting.
The panel also is indebted to staff of the National Academies outside of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT). They included staff in the Transportation Research Board, especially Steve Godwin, who provided extremely useful advice on potential panel members. We are also very grateful to Frank Porto of IT services, who was instrumental in hosting and extracting the MCMIS data and making it available to CNSTAT staff and panel members.
The panel is very grateful as well to Jacob Spertus and Andrew Yarger for their data analysis that supported the conclusions and findings in the report. We are also greatly in the debt of Rick Pain, who delayed his retirement to provide us with critical information and advice throughout all phases of this study.
Michael Siri and Agnes Gaskin dealt with the complicated administrative aspects of such a study with great patience and understanding. Genie Grohman and Paula Whitacre did an outstanding job of technical editing of the report, greatly improving its readability and helping to communicate our message.p
Finally, we wish to thank the panel members. The panel worked extremely well together with a great collaborative spirit, writing the majority of the chapters and conscientiously reviewing the products of other panel members. They were a wonderful group of people to get to know.
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The
purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Rebecca Brewster, president, American Transportation Research Institute, Arlington, VA; Stephen V. Burks, associate professor of economics and management, University of Minnesota, Morris; Thomas C. DiSalvi, vice president, Safety and Loss Prevention, Schneider National, Inc.; Carol A. Flannagan, research associate professor, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and director, Center for the Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation; Robert D. Gibbons, professor of medicine and health sciences, The University of Chicago; Feng Guo, associate professor, Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; H. Brandon Haller, assistant director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Jeff Hickman, research scientist, Center for Truck and Bus Safety, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; Susan Paddock, senior statistician, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA; and Greer Woodruff, senior vice president, Safety, Security and Driver Personnel, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Hal S. Stern, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine, and Henry G. Schwartz, Jr., consultant, St. Louis, MO. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
Joel Greenhouse and Sharon-Lise Normand, Cochairs
Michael Cohen and Esha Sinha, Costudy Directors
Panel on the Review of the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
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Average number of power units (APU): The number of straight trucks, truck tractors, and buses owned or leased by a commercial motor vehicle carrier. This information can be updated multiple times during a 2-year period, and so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses a weighted average of up to three inputs to arrive at the average number of power units.
American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI): The trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization, an independent and autonomous research organization whose primary mission is research focused on the industry’s safety and productivity.
Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): Seven scores—which generate seven percentile ranks—six of which are weighted frequencies of particular collections of violations that pertain to various types of safety problems, and one of which is a weighted frequency of crashes.
Commercial motor vehicle (CMV): A truck or a bus, which obscures the enormous variety of vehicles referred to by those terms.
Compliance review (CR): An on-site investigation of a carrier’s operations to assess whether it is meeting the safety fitness standards. Compliance reviews address hours of service, maintenance, driver qualifications,
commercial driver’s license requirements, finances, crash frequency, and other safety and transportation records.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA): A data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program intended to reduce the frequency of commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and fatalities. CSA consists of the Safety Measurement System; resulting interventions; and a Safety Fitness Determination Rating System, which is used to determine motor carrier safety.
Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS): A nationwide census that provides the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and congress with annual data on fatal injuries resulting from motor vehicle traffic crashes.
Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST ACT): A federal law (Public Law No. 114-94) that provided funding for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment, authorizing $305 billion from 2016 through 2020 for “highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs.”
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): A federal agency established in 2000 that is within the U.S. Department of Transportation. Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, its mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. This includes enforcement of safety regulations; identifying high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers; improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle equipment and technologies; and increasing safety awareness. FMCSA works collaboratively on its mission with other federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, and labor and safety interest groups.
Hazardous materials (HM): Any item or agent that has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment.
Hours of service (HOS): Hours-of-service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers limit the number of hours that drivers can operate their vehicles and limit the number of hours they can be at work in a 24-hour period and in a work week.
Inspectors/investigators: Inspectors are Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance–certified state and local officials who carry out roadside inspec-
tions of commercial motor vehicles. Investigators are FMCSA employees who carry out safety audits, which include compliance reviews and other special investigations, at a carrier’s headquarters.
Inspection levels: Roadside inspections conducted by trained inspectors who are overseen and guided by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The inspections consist of the following:
- Level I—Full Inspection: Examination of the driver’s license, medical examiner’s certificate, skill performance evaluation certificate (if applicable), use of alcohol and drugs, driver’s record of duty status, hours of service, seat belt use, vehicle inspection reports, checks of brake systems, coupling devices, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, securement of cargo, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, windshield wipers, emergency exits and/or electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments for buses, and hazardous materials requirements as applicable.
- Level II—Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection: A subset of a Level I inspection involving only those items that can be inspected without physically getting under the vehicle.
- Level II—Driver/Credential Inspection: Examination of the driver’s license, medical examiner’s certificate and skill performance evaluation certificate, driver’s record of duty status, hours of service, seat belt, vehicle inspection report(s), and hazardous materials requirements.
- Level IV—Special Inspections: One-time inspections of particular items, often in support of a study.
- Level V—Vehicle-Only Inspection: Subset of a full inspection that can be done without a driver present.
- Level VI—Inspection for Radioactive Material: Examination for select radiological shipments.
Intervention: Various ways in which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can inform a carrier that its safety performance is deficient. The primary types are notification letters, investigations, and various types of follow-on activities, which include at the extreme placing a carrier out of service.
Investigation: Safety audits that include compliance reviews and take place at a carrier’s headquarters.
Million vehicle miles traveled (MVMT): A measure of exposure useful as a denominator for crashes, due to their rarity.
Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC): A voluntary guideline for crash data element definitions suitable for states to use in designing police crash reports and statewide crash databases.
Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS): A database containing information from states on commercial motor vehicle inspections, violations discovered during inspections, crashes, and registration data on all carriers. This is the dataset that supports the Safety Measurement System.
Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP): A federal program that provides grants to states to assist in the reduction of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, including those involving hazardous materials, by supporting consistent, uniform, and effective safety programs.
Out of service (OOS): If during a commercial motor vehicle’s roadside inspection certain violations are discovered, the driver and/or the vehicle may be placed temporarily out of service.
Police accident reports (PARS): Reports from police officers arriving at the scene of an accident containing the information that they collected from the placement of the vehicles, skid marks, interviews of those involved and eye witnesses, and other information.
Power units: A power unit for a truck carrier is either a straight truck or the tractor from a tractor-trailer. A power unit for a bus carrier is a bus.
SafeStat: Predecessor that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration employed prior to the institution of the Safety Measurement System.
Safety event group: Safety event groups are strata of truck and bus carriers that essentially group carriers of similar size so that carriers in the same safety event group have scores with similar levels of precision.
Safety Measurement System (SMS): The current approach by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to identify unsafe commercial motor vehicle carriers for the purpose of generation of interventions.
Severity weights: Severity weights are assigned to each of the violations so that violations that have a stronger association with crash risk are
given greater weight in the computation of safety measurement system measures of carrier safety risk.
State Safety Data Quality (SSDQ): A variety of forms of technical assistance, grants, and dispute resolution to improve data on commercial motor vehicle crashes.
Straight truck/combination truck: A straight truck is one where the body of the vehicle is in a single piece. A combination truck is typically a tractor-trailer where a cab is pulling a trailer.
Time weights: Time weights are assigned to each inspection so that more recent inspections are given greater weight. Specifically, inspections that occurred within the previous 6 months are given a weight of three, those that occurred between 6 months and 1 year ago are given a weight of two, and those that occurred between 1 year and 2 years ago are given a weight of one.
Utilization factor: Utilization factor is a function of vehicle miles traveled, which serves to reduce unusually high values of vehicle miles traveled, and which when multiplied by the average number of power units, provides a denominator for two of the seven BASIC measures.
Vehicle miles traveled (VMT): The number of miles all the trucks of a carrier has traveled during a specific period of time.
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This report is dedicated to the memory of Stephen E. Fienberg, Maurice Falk university professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University. Steve was a distinguished statistician and one who was deeply committed to promoting the use of statistical thinking and methods to better inform and advance public policy. He was also an exceptional and tireless mentor. He was always accessible, either face to face or through e-mail, to his students and his colleagues around the world. His energy and enthusiasm were contagious, and his encyclopedic knowledge legend.
Steve was an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and active for decades in the work of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), including as its chair for several years. He served on 35 committees of CNSTAT, as well as other boards and committees at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. To all of them, he brought his tireless energy and deep knowledge to a wide variety of topics, including counterterrorism, measuring discrimination, census methods, undocumented immigration, use of the polygraph, privacy and confidentiality of survey data, forensic science, the use of statistical assessments in the courts, and research integrity. More broadly, he played a crucial role in promoting the use of statistics in public policy issues, which this report exemplifies.