A U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania once again has introduced troubling legislation that would exempt trucking and bus companies from the current federal system that calculates “safety scores” based on driving records.
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) filed the bill, HR 1371, after an identical measure failed to gain traction with other legislators last year. The curiously named bill, the “Safer Trucks and Buses Act,” would not only stop the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from continuing its current Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scoring system, it also would prevent injured victims from using safety scores as evidence in lawsuits tied to 18-wheeler and bus crashes.
Barletta and his industry supporters claim the current scoring system is unfair based on the assertion that trucking companies are unfairly being harmed when they’re penalized for “minor infractions.” Accepting this premise is difficult when you consider that the safety score criteria is the same for every trucking company.
The real reason that trucking companies want to spike the current safety score system is because they don’t want to be judged by their actions. From their perspective, the public shouldn’t even have the opportunity to know these scores, which currently help trucking and bus customers independently decide which carrier is safer, in addition to allowing juries to determine appropriate damages in lawsuits where big rigs have caused serious injuries or deaths.
As expected, the trucking industry is reviving its support for Barletta’s bill much like it did during last year’s failed legislative attempt. Fortunately, the proposed law is facing opposition from many respected groups concerned with public safety, including the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and the related entities Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), among others.
When politicians and industry giants start making waves about removing safety information from public view, it is hard to believe they’re doing so in order make sure our roads are home to “safer trucks and buses.”