Over 3,600 people in this country died in 2009 as a result of crashes involving large commercial trucks and buses. Until recently the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its state partners tracked the safety of motor carriers--companies that own these vehicles--by conducting resource-intensive compliance reviews of a small percentage of carriers. In 2004, FMCSA began its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program. CSA is intended to identify and evaluate carriers and drivers posing high safety risks. FMCSA has focused on three key CSA oversight activities to evaluate carriers: a new Safety Measurement System (SMS) using more roadside inspection and other data to identify at-risk carriers; a wider range of "interventions" to reach more at-risk carriers; and using SMS data to suspend unfit carriers. FMCSA expected to fully implement CSA by late 2010. FMCSA also plans to separately use data to rate drivers' fitness. In this report, GAO assessed: (1) the status of the CSA rollout and issues that could affect it and (2) CSA's potential to improve safety. GAO reviewed CSA plans and data, visited eight states, and interviewed FMCSA, state, and industry officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to develop a plan for implementing driver fitness ratings that prioritizes steps that need to be completed and includes a reasonable timeframe for completing them. The plan should also address the safety implications of delayed implementation of driver fitness ratings.|
|Department of Transportation||The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to regularly report to Congress on CSA's status; the problems that FMCSA has encountered during the implementation of CSA and the risks they pose to full implementation of CSA; its strategy for mitigating these risks; and a timetable for fully implementing CSA and reporting the progress made in developing and implementing CSA performance measures.|