FMCSA Strategic Plan Proposes Comprehensive Safety Effort

June 29, 2011

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One of the top items on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's agenda over the next five years is to expand its influence over shippers and receivers.

In its draft strategic plan for 2011-2016, the agency introduces the concept of a "commercial motor vehicle transportation life-cycle," which includes not just truck and bus companies but the entities that control or influence those companies.
FMCSA wants to expand its influence over shippers and receivers.
FMCSA wants to expand its influence over shippers and receivers.

The greatest potential for improving safety lies in focusing outreach, oversight, and enforcement on everyone who is a part of that cycle, the agency said.

A key strategy will be to identify gaps in its authority that prevent the agency from reaching entities (shippers, receivers, brokers, freight forwarders) that have an influence over safety.
The agency is asking for comments on this and other aspects of the 17-page strategic plan that it posted on its website yesterday.

The plan lists 10 goals, each with the strategies it will pursue to achieve them. Some of these initiatives already are under way, such as the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, and the pending drug and alcohol clearinghouse. But there are some new ideas here, as well:

* Develop a new credentialing standard to make sure that everyone covered by the rules understands the rules. This would be part of an overall effort to raise the bar for entry into the business and prevent carriers from reincarnating themselves in order to dodge enforcement actions.

* Use safety and risk analysis to create a system of enforcement priorities that covers the entire transportation community, including shippers, cargo tank manufacturers or repair facilities and intermodal equipment providers as well as bus and truck operators and drivers.

* Emphasize expanded traffic enforcement for car as well as truck and bus drivers.

* The agency wants to expand the range of its partnerships beyond the enforcement, carrier, medical, and safety advocacy communities to include the judicial, education, insurance and shipping communities.

* The agency will continue looking for incentives to push the use of safety technologies such as collision warning and stability control.

* FMCSA wants to become the authoritative source of safety data, and to assemble all that data in a single system that all can enter.

* Also on the list is continuation and expansion of the effort to research driver risk factors to support rulemakings and promote health, wellness and a culture of safety.

No strategic plan is complete without a reference to self-improvement. For itself, the agency wants to clean up its regulatory closet by getting rid of obsolete or conflicting rules, and get better at hiring new people. Among its goals: get onto the Top 10 of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.

For a copy of the plan, go to and click on Notices. Comments are due by July 29.

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