Image: FMCSA

Image: FMCSA

A large coalition of groups representing property and passenger carriers is requesting that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao rescind the Carrier Safety Fitness Determination notice of proposed rulemaking issued over a year ago by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The NPRM, which came out on Jan 21, 2016, seeks to establish a new motor carrier safety-rating system based on scores generated by FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

Making their case in a Feb 15. letter to Chao, the industry groups contend that the safety-fitness determination proposal should take a back seat to FMCSA fixing its CSA system, citing the flaws of the data that drives the current Safety Measurement System (SMS) within CSA.

Back in December 2015, FMCSA said it was proposing to adopt “revised methodologies” for determining when a motor carrier is not fit to operate based on: (1) the carrier's on-road safety performance in relation to five of the seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) tracked by the agency’s CSA program; (2) an investigation; or (3) a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

“The intended effect of this action is to more effectively use FMCSA data and resources to identify unfit motor carriers and to remove them from the nation's roadways,” the agency stated at the time.

The signatories to the stakeholder letter state that their major concern with the SFD proposal is that it would use a methodology built on “flawed Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program/Safety Measurement System (SMS) data and scores, which Congress directed the agency to review and reform just months earlier in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Systems Act (FAST Act) enacted in December of 2015.”

The letter points out that those CSA reforms are “in process” via a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the final report from which is expected out in June.

The coalition goes on to say that it doesn’t make sense “to build a new safety fitness determination system upon a flawed system which is currently undergoing congressionally mandated review and reform and is likely to change. While we support the goal of an easily understandable, rational safety fitness determination system, this proposal is built on a flawed foundation. We urge you to rescind this ill-advised and harmful rulemaking immediately and participate fully in the reform of the CSA/SMS process as mandated by Congress.”

The over 60 stakeholder groups, including some fleets, in the coalition include the American Trucking Associations, the National Private Truck Council, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the Western States Trucking Association.

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

View Bio