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May 1, 2020 1:15 PM, EDT

FMCSA Adopts Crash Accountability Program

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on May 1 announced that effective immediately it is making permanent a pilot program that will not count a crash in which a motor carrier was not at fault when calculating the carrier’s safety measurement profile. It also is expanding the types of crashes that may be considered.

The announcement ends a longtime trucking industry controversy over the agency’s practice of listing crashes on carriers’ public safety profiles in the FMCSA Compliance, Safety, Accountability system without indicating whether the driver or carrier could not have prevented the crash.

The new Crash Preventability Demonstration Program, as it is called, was proposed by FMCSA on Aug. 5, 2019, after the agency had conducted research and gathered public input.

“Based on comments received in response to the August 2019 proposal, FMCSA established the CPDP which will expand the types of eligible crashes, modify the Safety Measurement System to exclude crashes with not preventable determinations from the prioritization algorithm and note the not preventable determinations in the Pre-Employment Screening Program.”

Since its implementation in 2010, FMCSA’s CSA Safety Measurement System has used safety performance information in the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs, in addition to recordable crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, to prioritize carriers for safety interventions.

The Crash Indicator BASIC uses crashes from the previous 24 months to calculate percentiles for motor carriers. In addition, the public SMS website lists motor carriers’ recordable crashes.

As a prelude to the regulatory proposal last summer, the agency said more than 12,000 requests for data reviews were submitted by truck and bus companies during the demonstration program.

“Approximately 56% of the submitted RDRs were eligible, meaning they were one of the eight crash types,” FMCSA said. “After reviewing the eligible crashes, approximately 93% were found to have been not preventable.”

Under the program, carriers with eligible crashes that occurred on or after Aug. 1, 2019, may submit a Request for Data Review with the required police accident report and other supporting documents, photos or videos through the agency’s DataQs website.

“The Crash Preventability Determination Program allows carriers and drivers to submit evidence that an eligible crash was not preventable,” the May 1 announcement said. “If FMCSA determines the crash was not preventable, it will be listed on the Safety Measurement System but not included when calculating a carrier’s Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category measure in SMS. Additionally, the not preventable determinations will be noted on a driver’s Pre-Employment Screening Program report.”

“We are happy to see a permanent program come to fruition,” said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations. “Since the demonstration program ended last July, our members have been eager to have a means to challenge certain crashes that are clearly not their fault.”

Dan Horvath, director of safety policy for American Trucking Associations

Horvath

Horvath added, “While these changes are a welcomed step in the right direction, we will continue to work with FMCSA to encourage further improvements to the determination program, in addition to significant changes to the overall CSA/SMS program.”

“We have long held concerns that carriers are assumed to be at fault when the majority of crashes are caused by passenger vehicle drivers or other factors,” said Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

FMCSA said the carrier’s list of crashes and the notations associated with not preventable crashes will remain publicly available. Crashes deemed not preventable will not be used to prioritize motor carriers for safety interventions. FMCSA will continue to display one of three determinations for the eligible crashes that it reviews. They include reviewed, not preventable; reviewed, preventable; or reviewed, undecided, the agency said.

“Although the Crash Indicator BASIC percentiles have never been publicly available, stakeholders have expressed concern that the use of all crashes in SMS, without an indication of preventability, may give an inaccurate impression about the risk posed by the company,” the agency said.

FMCSA said it is implementing all crash types proposed in the August 2019 notice, and adding a “Rare or unusual crash” type. “However, to help submitters find the correct eligible crash type, FMCSA rearranged the order of crashes to group of like crash events together,” the agency said.

As a result, the final list of eligible crash types include:

  • Struck in the rear type of crash.
  • Wrong direction or illegal turns type of crash.
  • Parked or legally stopped type of crash.
  • Failure of the other vehicle to stop type of crash.
  • Under the influence type of crash.
  • Medical issues, falling asleep or distracted driving type of crash.
  • Cargo/equipment/debris or infrastructure failure type of crash.
  • Animal strike type of crash.
  • Suicide type of crash.
  • Rare or unusual type of crash.

FMCSA has established a new website for the crash preventability program.

The website includes frequently asked questions and tools to help submitters complete the RDR process in DataQs. It will be updated quarterly to provide information on the RDRs received and reviewed by the agency.

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