FMCSA: Safety-Fitness Proposal Gives Carriers Fixed Target

April 7, 2016

By David Cullen

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Photo: U.S. DOT
Photo: U.S. DOT

“Carriers will always know what their [safety fitness] target is,” Joe DeLorenzo, Director of Enforcement and Compliance, told reporters during an April 7 briefing on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed rulemaking on Safety Fitness Determination.

When it proposed the SFD rule in January, FMCSA said it “will enhance the agency’s ability to identify non-compliant motor carriers.”

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks to revise the agency’s safety fitness rating methodology by “integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine a motor carrier’s overall safety fitness on a monthly basis.”

In today’s conference call, DeLorenzo stressed that the NPRM presents how the agency would determine that a carrier is not fit to operate “without utilizing relative percentiles as a safety measurement.”

He said a “fixed measure” would be established and published in the rule and there would be “no issue with using relative percentiles.” Put another way, individual carrier ratings would not be affected by how other carriers are rated.

“It’s a proposal for a new standard to determining when a carrier is fit to operate,” said DeLorenzo.

He said the rulemaking spells out the standard, including “a calculation called the absolute measure, [which a carrier would be “under or over.” [The proposal] makes it clear which carrier can operate. [The agency will] simply have a determination of those unfit to operate” instead of the current three-tier federal rating system of “satisfactory–conditional–unsatisfactory,” which has been in place since 1982.

DeLorenzo said a key benefit of the proposal is that safety ratings would no longer be “dependent on the agency conducting labor-intensive investigations. [Because of that] we only get to a small number of companies and the ratings are not current. 

“This will give us a way to incorporate roadside safety [inspection] information that is current and make safety assessments of more carriers.” He said that the agency along with its state partners now assesses 15,000 carriers, but the new SFD rule would enable it to assess 75,000 a month.

The proposal also aims to provide “several different options” that carriers assigned an “unfit” rating could pursue, said DeLorenzo. “They could appeal the decision, ask for the opportunity to correct data or to indicate that corrective action has been taken.” 

DeLorenzo also addressed criticism that aspects of the SFD proposal run counter to the prohibition in the FAST ACT highway bill of displaying relative percentiles used to score property carrier’s compliance and safety performance.

“There is a fixed measure of fitness” in the proposed SFD rule, he said. “A carrier’s measure is calculated based on their own data. It’s fixed. We think that will also make it a clear standard of safety fitness.”

DeLorenzo noted that the agency called the briefing in part to encourage public comments. “This is the proposal stage,” he said. “This is the time we want to get feedback to help us come back with the best [rule] possible.” 

In March, the agency extended the deadline for the submission of initial comments to May 23, 2016. Reply comments will be due on or before June 23, 2016. Per FMCSA, stakeholder requests led to the comment extension.

Both initial and reply comments should be identified by Docket Number FMCSA-2015-0001 and submitted to the agency via any of these methods: 

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal by going to and following the online instructions for submitting comments
  • Fax to 1-202-493-2251 
  • Mail to Docket Services, U.S. Department of Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001 

DeLorenzo also advised that the agency has developed an online calculator that carriers can use to determine how the proposed rule would impact them. The calculator requires inputting information on a company’s on-road safety performance and most recent investigation results. 

Related: FMSCA Extends Safety-Fitness Rulemaking Comment Period


  1. 1. Clyde C. Kerns [ April 08, 2016 @ 05:35AM ]

    The principle problem with the proposal is that 6 years since inception of CSA, FMCSA still has not acknowledged that the points system utilized to penalize corporate entities does not reflect adequately the safety danger to the motoring public.
    A) cracked and damaged 5th wheel 3points
    B) chaffing air line 6 points
    C) running a stop sign 4points
    D) not wearing a seat belt 7points
    These are only a few examples of the error of their statistical input and the ultimate effect on the outcome. Could FMSCA or FAA whom apparently is reviewing CSA not fix the scoring system to actually reflect the danger to the motoring public?

  2. 2. John Mueller [ April 08, 2016 @ 07:56AM ]

    Lack of consistent enforcement among states. Each state may prioritize different regulations. Levels of enforcement vary geographically. CSA surely a flawed system.

    If we really want to lower crash rates let's focus on the motoring general public and enforcement of traffic laws on the general public - not selective enforcement. 80 some percent of car-truck crashes are the fault of...... the car! Where is the real problem?
    The majority of Motor Carriers strive to reduce the number of crashes and to continually improve safety within their organizations.

  3. 3. Kathy Grigsby [ April 13, 2016 @ 06:30AM ]

    FMCSA said it “will enhance the agency’s ability to identify non-compliant motor carriers.”

    This is exactly the problem. FMCSA says that the purpose of CSA is to prevent crashes but when they want to make a point about the data what do they say? It identifies the motor carriers that are not compliant.

    Some of the rules are part of the regulations due to seeking a way to monitor the motor carriers compliance. Does not putting your shipment number on the log relate to crashes-no.

    Does not taking a 30 minute break at exactly 8 hours relate to crashes-no. Yet this is the point system that counts all of the little stuff repeatedly until it is a significant number against the motor carrier.

    Don't get me started on the states that have agendas and enforcement is many times the number of the other states in one or more categories.

    So you have slanted data, uneven enforcement, along with basics that do not have any relation to crashes except opposite correlation-this is what they are going to judge a motor carrier on for black and white fitness. The SFD is fit or unfit-nothing else.


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