"With FMCSA moving ahead with its CSA carrier oversight system, it is more important than ever that the agency uses not only the best data, but also common sense to ensure it is targeting the right carriers and drivers for oversight," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves says.
"By backtracking on their commitment to implement a crash accountability determination process in early 2012 to hold carriers accountable for crashes clearly caused by the actions or inactions of a truck driver, FMCSA has bowed to anti-industry interest groups and unfairly called into question the integrity of police accident reports prepared by America's law enforcement community."
ATA and other industry groups had requested, and FMCSA had agreed, to develop a process where police accident reports would be reviewed to determine crash accountability and remove non-preventable crashes from a carrier's CSA profile. Earlier this month, the agency told trucking representatives it would not be going forward with that plan after all.
Ferro explained in an interview that safety advocacy groups raised questions about the proposal that caused her to reconsider the agency's approach. The questions had to do with using just the Police Accident Report and a carrier's statement to determine crash accountability, Ferro said.
She said that approach is too limited because it does not allow for comment from others impacted by the crash. These presumably could include victims, insurance companies, shippers and witnesses.
Also, the process did not allow other parties to even know that a carrier was filing a request for an accountability examination, Ferro said. And, if the agency created a window for others to participate, it would have to create a new process to manage the exchange.
"It was just too early out of the box in this proposal, quite frankly, so I pulled it back," Ferro said.
ATA cited the following examples of crashes that have raised CSA scores for carriers:
* A December 2011 crash where the driver of a stolen SUV being pursued by police crashed into the back of a tank truck.
* A January 2012 crash involving a Utah State student who was texting and Facebook messaging when she rear-ended a tank truck.
* A February 2012 crash in Pennsylvania where an SUV traveling the wrong way on Interstate 70 collided with a tractor-trailer traveling in the proper direction.
* A February 2012 crash in Tennessee where an SUV crossed the median of Interstate 40 and struck a tractor-trailer traveling in the opposite direction.
"We all know that not every crash involving one of our trucks can be prevented by the truck driver," says ATA Chairman Dan England, chairman of C.R. England, Salt Lake City, "So we've been making the common sense, reasonable request for several years that FMCSA hold us accountable for what we can prevent and not hold us accountable in the CSA program for crashes we simply cannot prevent."
According to the agency, finding a way to do that is easier said than done.