As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration readies a long-awaited proposed rule that would use CSA data in making Safety Fitness Determinations for motor carriers, it's also preparing for "Phase III" of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.
In a letter distributed by American Trucking Associations to its state affiliates, Acting Administrator Scott Darling outlined what he said were the top five priority initiatives for the year:
Safety Fitness Determination
FMCSA is in the final stages of publishing a Proposed Rule that would increase the use of inspection data in making Safety Fitness Determinations for motor carriers. This rule will focus on on incorporating current on-road safety performance data (i.e., roadside inspection and crash data, as is used for CSA scores) and evaluating carriers based on their own performance.
FMCSA launched a new version of its inspection software program - Aspen 3.0. It features a new look and feel and enhanced capabilities. Many of the functions needed at roadside are now integrated into the Aspen system without requiring external software. Law enforcement personnel are also able to obtain direct access to out-of-service notices.
Unified Registration System
FMCSA will implement a new, revamped system designed to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the information in its database of registered motor carriers based on a 2013 Final Rule. URS will streamline manual processes and combine several forms that regulated entities are required to submit into one unified registration – the electronic "smart form."
"It is important that we get this right," Darling noted. "As such, we will move forward with a new phased implementation that will ensure a successful launch." A Federal Register Notice will be published in October that will provide details on the updated implementation timeline.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Phase III
In preparation for a successful launch of the final two CSA interventions - offsite investigations and cooperative safety plans - FMCSA is lining up the necessary training for Federal and State investigators and outreach to the industry.
FMCSA is also moving forward on a new type of investigation, the crash BASIC investigation, which focuses on identifying trends in carrier crash behaviors.
FMCSA also will be fine-tuning the SMS algorithm to better identify carriers for investigation so it can intervene more quickly with those found to be at greatest risk. A second Federal Register notice announcing the preview of the changes will be published in the coming months.
Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)
A Final Rule on ELDs is being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget and is scheduled to be out later this year.
"Although we cannot discuss the provisions of a Final Rule before it is made public, I can say that the rule is designed to benefit everyone by improving hours of service (HOS) compliance, which we estimate will prevent about 20 fatalities and over 400 injuries each year; helping businesses cut paperwork and save money; protecting drivers from harassment; and making it easier for law enforcement and safety inspectors to review driver HOS records."