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Trucking Data Experts:
FMCSA Releases CSA Mobile App
ATA Decries it as Irresponsible

Truck Regulations Expert Witness / Truck Driver Qualifications Expert Witness Articles

By Scott Greene

On March 17, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation's(DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it had developed and released a smart phone app that allowed public access to Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scores on motor carriers and bus companies.

FMCSA CSA Logo - Truck Driver Qualifications ExpertTruck Driver Qualification Expert Witness

The app is available for free for the iPhone via the Apple App Store and Android via Google Play.

In its announcement, the FMCSA indicated the “…new Smartphone app that will allow for more convenient access to currently available online safety performance information for interstate truck and bus companies.“

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "By making currently available safety information on interstate truck and bus companies more easily accessible for both law enforcement personnel and the general public, we are providing greater transparency while making our roadways safer for everyone.  Safety is our highest priority, so we are committed to using every resource available at our finger tips to ensure the safety of travelers."

Called Query Central or "QCMobile" for short, the new app is expected to be used by law enforcement personnel as well as insurers, brokers, freight-forwarders, and others interested in reviewing the DOT CSA Scores, registration, and safety performance information of motor carriers and bus companies.

"FMCSA will continue to use all the tools, resources, and partnerships available to further strengthen commercial vehicle safety across the country," said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling.  "Aggressive safety enforcement, research, and technology development and deployment, combined with strong stakeholder participation, will continue to be directed toward removing unsafe trucks and buses from our roadways and protecting every traveler from needless harm."

Currently, law enforcement officers and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety inspectors use custom software on the roadside to log-into a national safety databases to obtain highly detailed safety information on all interstate truck and bus companies.

The new QCMobile app does not require the user to log-in. The app QCMobile retrieves data from a number of FMCSA sources and provides a summary of the results. It can quickly reveal whether the federal operating status of the carrier is authorized or not.Law enforcement officers and safety inspectors who login have the option of retrieving more detailed information on carriers. This would allegedly include the carrier’s seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) which are a part of FMCSA's cornerstone safety program.

The app reveals safety data on carriers including: their percentile rankings in the DOT’s CSA program, licensing and insurance information, safety ratings and crashes. The app allows the user to search the data by Carrier Name, DOT number or Motor Carrier number.

According to the FMCSA the information displayed in the QCMobile app, mirrors the information in the agency’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) portal.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) had harsh words for the FMCSA upon the release of the App. The ATA said the available CSA data was unreliable and urged the public “not to use this app given the serious flaws that have been identified by the General Accounting Office and others.” The ATA didn’t specifically denounce the app, but rather the underlying data.

A spokesperson for the ATA said: “Tuesday’s announcement by FMCSA is recklessness cloaking itself as transparency.” Sean McNally went on to say: “The Compliance, Safety, Accountability system was designed to better target potentially unsafe carriers, but a report issued by the Government Accountability Office last year characterized CSA safety scores as often being unreliable and imprecise.  Early this month, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, GAO said the system suffers from a number of data quality and sufficiency issues and therefore 'does not effectively identify high-risk carriers.'”

“Given the serious problems with the validity of CSA scores, it is wholly inappropriate for FMCSA to encourage and facilitate public access and use,” McNally said. “If CSA cannot effectively identify high-risk carriers, making safe carriers’ unreliable scores more accessible to the public is simply irresponsible.  The agency should immediately pull this tool from the marketplace.” 


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