FMCSA Defends Crash Data as ‘Clearly Sufficient’

October 8, 2015

By David Cullen

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Image: FMCSA
Image: FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a report on Oct 8 that finds that “the amount of data used in the agency’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) is clearly sufficient to allow FMCSA to identify high-risk truck and bus companies.”

FMCSA said the report, required by Congress, shows that SMS “effectively identifies the truck and bus companies involved in 90 percent of the more than 100,000 crashes that occur each year, and those that are identified as high-risk carriers continue to have crash rates that are twice the national average.”

In examining commercial motor vehicle crash rates, FMCSA said it looked at carriers of various sizes, per the Congressional directive, and the “analysis revealed no significant difference in actual crash rates between small carriers and those with 20 or more roadside inspections.” 

Furthermore, the agency said its examinations also determined that the category of carriers with 11 to 20 inspections and patterns of non-compliance has the highest crash rates.

FMCSA said that determination presents “a clear and immediate intervention opportunity for the agency to proactively bring these carriers into compliance with important safety regulations, including: hours-of-service limitations designed to prevent fatigued driving; vehicle maintenance, and; commercial driver’s license requirements.” 

The agency went on to state that its current SMS data-sufficiency standards allow it “to effectively identify and proactively intervene with high-risk carriers before a crash involving a large truck or bus occurs.”

FMCSA said it had disagreed with the Government Accountability Office’s recommendation, issued in March, that the agency increase the minimum number of required roadside safety inspections needed before prioritizing truck and bus companies for interventions because “a delay in responding to known non-compliant carriers would needlessly jeopardize the safety of the motoring public.”

The agency noted that under current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, a carrier’s safety fitness can only be assigned following an on-site investigation and called the SMS, a component of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, “a tool to prioritize” high-risk truck and bus companies for enforcement interventions. 

 “Today’s report underscores the critical importance of considering carriers of all sizes in the agency’s continuing efforts to remove unsafe carriers and commercial drivers from the nation’s roadways and protecting travelers everywhere,” stated FMCSA. 


  1. 1. Kathy Grigsby [ October 09, 2015 @ 06:11AM ]

    What about the inaccurate data. So many time the roadside inspection includes violations that are just wrong. The only avenue for correction is the Data Q which goes right back to the officer that wrote it. No solution in sight.

    What about the small carriers that are operating illegally, taking huge risks and yet hardly ever getting caught because of the small volume of roadside inspections. Some states don't even bother with the intrastate carriers except for business licensing. They never check on anything else. These trucks are a great risk because no one is monitoring them because they are small. No solution in sight.

    Our company's crash rate is excellent but we have to battler CSA because of interline agreements and inaccurate violations. If they are going issue Safety Fitness Determinations based on this data they are just going to end up in court continuously.

  2. 2. AL [ October 09, 2015 @ 12:24PM ]

    Kathy where are you getting your data that small companies are flying under the radar ? i have a fleet of 5 trucks and i spend lots of time and money every week trying to keep up with my equipment and driver safety compliance...we run 48 states and it seems to me like i have a Bulls Eye on my trucks because the crap they write us up for is unreal...For example my driver gets a unsafe rating and violation for Placing his GPS on his windshield in the incorrect position...and many more stupid violations that i cant even fight to get off the csa record...So when you say we run illegally under the radar and we are high are completely wrong...have a great day

  3. 3. Gearjamn [ October 09, 2015 @ 01:21PM ]

    I agree with Al completely, we are a small carrier 3 trucks and its like we have a bulls eye as well. I once did a percentage of inspections based on the CSA data for inspections against the bigger carriers and the smaller carriers get 5 to 6 times the amount of inspections the bigger companies do. Sounds kind of biased to me or as they say profiling , discrimination , call it what you want but these ARE the facts !! You can do the research yourself like I did based on all the published data on from the FMCSA I keep thinking maybe the smaller companies should band together and do a class action suit against the FMCSA based on discrimination and biases seeing as how they put the facts out there be hard for them to deny. Too bad us smaller carriers couldn't pay people to look the other way like the big ones do with their lobbyists , political connections and clout

  4. 4. Bruce [ October 17, 2015 @ 11:15AM ]

    I'm with u Al n gearjamn ! Once that nitpickn officer puts something on that inspection it isn't comn off.stopped in Newton,Ia to get a pack of smokes,rolled out onto county blacktop 2nd gear 2mph cop sitting under viaduct with lights out ,puts on sms , disobeying traffic control device then not current on logs cause I didn't log that pack of smokes,then manner/on logs for no street address just city and state .filled it out that way for 38 yrs no one ever said a word. Ends up I get the max30pts .fought it through data Q reply said judgment call by officer too bad


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