Drivers

FMCSA: Hours of Service Violators Beware

April 26, 2010

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During the Pegasus TransTech Users Conference recently, a safety investigator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told attendees that enforcement under the new Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 would stress compliance with hours of service rules.
According to the ATA, not all areas participate in the federally funded Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, so accidents in some states are far less likely to be reported to the FMCSA than in others. (Photo by CVSA)
According to the ATA, not all areas participate in the federally funded Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, so accidents in some states are far less likely to be reported to the FMCSA than in others. (Photo by CVSA)
If a carrier is found to have numerous HOS violations, "I'll be coming in for an audit," said Cynthia Witty, the safety investigator.

Witty said that current out-of-service criteria at roadside inspections will remain substantially unchanged with CSA 2010, the FMCSA's new safety program, which has been delayed until November of this year.

Rob Abbott, vice president, safety policy for the American Trucking Associations, told conference attendees that the upcoming rules will rely on inconsistent state accident reporting and that carrier safety performance scores will be based on a flawed formula. At its most basic, he explained, the formula divides the number of carrier violations by the number of DOT registered trucks in the fleet - without regard to miles actually driven.

"That can hurt efficient carriers with high equipment utilization," Abbott said, "because they travel more miles and do more work with fewer trucks."

Conceivably, Abbott said, a carrier could improve its safety score under CSA 2010 simply by adding trucks to the fleet.

While the ATA generally supports CSA 2010, it finds fault with some of its features. For example, under the new rules, accidents in some states are far less likely to be reported to the FMCSA than in others, resulting in uneven enforcement, Abbott said. This is because only those agencies that participate in the federally funded Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) will report violations.

"Carriers with operations in high reporting states may find it harder to maintain good CSA 2010 scores than those who operate in states where reporting is low," Abbott said.

According to Abbott's presentation, states that most consistently report truck accidents to the FMCSA are Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and New Jersey, which report between 80 to 90 percent of truck crashes. The lowest proportion of reporting comes from Florida and New Mexico, which report fewer than 30 percent of such incidents, and Mississippi, which reports between 30 and 40 percent, according to data from the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Missouri.




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