FMCSA Weighs Carrier Fitness Determination Rewrite

Agency Reviews Six Research Reports
Hands on wheel
Comments on the data notice must be received by Feb. 12. (Getty Images)

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is reviewing six research papers on topics that include in-cab monitoring, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning technologies as it weighs revision of its motor carrier safety fitness determination rules, the agency said.

The so-called Notice of Data Availability published Jan. 12 in the Federal Register “identifies information the agency has become aware of and provides an opportunity for public comment,” FMCSA said. “The agency may consider this information in preparation for further regulatory action following an advance notice of proposed rulemaking.”

Safety fitness determinations are currently based on an analysis of existing motor carrier data, collected during an investigation, and a compliance review conducted at a carrier’s place of business and/or remotely through a review of its records using a secure portal.

Comments on the data notice must be received by Feb. 12.

The request for comment comes after FMCSA on Aug. 29 posted an advance that could allow it to scrap or modify the current way it evaluates motor carrier fitness, or even develop a new method that could incorporate the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System, an unpopular idea among many motor carriers.

The six studies cited by FMCSA for review include:

Public comments on the fitness determination ANPRM ended Nov. 29, with only roughly 20 comments. Most leaned in support of the idea, but want to see what the agency does first with the proposal to change the fitness determination.

American Trucking Associations said it appreciates the agency’s attempt to develop a new methodology to determine when a motor carrier is fit to operate commercial motor vehicles in or affecting interstate commerce.

“For an SFD to be an accurate representation of a motor carrier’s fitness to operate, determinations must be based on a consistent and uniform data source. Unfortunately, data sufficiency concerns remain a serious limitation,” ATA wrote. “The Government Accountability Office has previously raised concerns about data sufficiency as part of the CSA/SMS methodology.”

In comments, the National Transportation Safety Board said that for more than two decades it has repeatedly issued recommendations to address the safety deficiencies with the FMCSA’s compliance review program and has called for SFD rulemaking to address the “critical need.”


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“The NTSB strongly supports this initiative but remains concerned with the sluggish pace of the FMCSA’s efforts to develop a robust SFD process that will effectively use FMCSA data and resources to identify unsafe motor carriers and remove them from our nation’s roadways,” NTSB said.

“As FMCSA pursues the development of a new methodology to determine when a motor carrier is unfit to operate, the agency must avoid relying on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability and Safety Measurement System programs,” the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote. “Since their inception in 2010, CSA/SMS have completely failed in their objective to reduce injuries, fatalities and crashes. “This will not change until CSA/SMS incentivizes actual safety performance instead of regulatory compliance.”

“The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance does not support FMCSA retaining the current three-tiered rating system of Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory and Conditional,” the inspectors trade organization wrote. “The current system can be misleading and should be simplified for clarity.”

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