"ATA supports this new approach to making adjustments to the Safety Measurement System methodology," ATA's Vice President of Safety Policy Rob Abbott wrote. "Previously, FMCSA occasionally made changes to the methodology with no prior explanation or announcement."
However, despite the more open process, Abbott said ATA still had significant concerns about the methodology - specifically the agency's treatment of non-preventable crashes and the creation of a new category to exclusively measure hazardous materials safety.
"There can be no better predictor of future crash risk than past at-fault crash involvement," Abbott said. Speaking to FMCSA's recent announcement that it intends to spend a year conducting research before developing a process for determining crash accountability, ATA urged FMCSA to establish an interim process to remove from consideration those crashes in which it is "plainly evident" that the truck driver was not responsible for the crash.
ATA reiterated its support for FMCSA's plan to create a separate category to measure hazardous materials carriers. However, ATA urged the agency to implement the change only after modifying and testing the methodology to ensure that carriers' scores relate to future crash risk. Currently, the BASIC assigns high scores to many reputable, safe motor carriers with laudable crash rates and low scores in all other categories.
"While compelling fleets to improve compliance with HM regulations is important, the more pressing need - and the goal of CSA - to is to identify fleets with a greater risk of crash involvement and to change their behavior," said Abbott. "Doing so would undoubtedly be a more appropriate and efficient use of the system."
To read ATA's full comments, click here.