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August 18, 2020 12:30 PM, EDT

FMCSA Seeks Survey for Beyond Compliance Program

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Federal trucking regulators are seeking White House approval to study the effectiveness of various technologies, programs and policies with a goal of allowing the agency to recognize and reward motor carriers that exceed regulatory safety requirements.

In an Aug. 17 announcement, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it wants to survey a select group of motor carrier operational managers whose companies exceed regulatory safety requirements and have enhanced driver fitness measures.

The surveys are in response to plans for a “Beyond Compliance program” that was mandated by the 2015 FAST Act as a way for FMCSA to reward carriers that exceed regulatory safety requirements with credit or improved Safety Measurement System percentile scores.

“The study does not attempt to conduct a full survey of the motor carrier population,” FMCSA said. “Instead, it relies on expert opinion from carriers that are objectively determined to exhibit safe operations that exceed industry averages as indicated by driver out-of-service rates, vehicle out-of-service rates and crash rates.

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“To identify these carriers, the study will utilize existing data from the Motor Carrier Management Information System database.”

The agency in April 2016 issued a notice outlining potential ideas on how to structure the program, an apparent attempt to meet a congressional deadline that the program be implemented 18 months after passage of the FAST Act. In addition, the agency posted a similar collection request to the new request about eight months ago.

An FMCSA official explained that the first notice in 2016 was to gather public comment regarding the program.

“After a review of the comments received and conducting a small-scale study, it was determined additional information was needed to ascertain the best approach moving forward,” the official said. “For that step, the agency is required to conduct an information collection request resulting in the additional Federal Register notices.”

The 2016 announcement called for the agency to offer interstate motor carriers a sort of public recognition mechanism through the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program for voluntarily installing advanced safety equipment, enhancing driver fitness measures and implementing fleet safety-management tools, technologies and programs.

At that time, FMCSA said its Beyond Compliance program would allow carriers to enroll in the program when they deployed the measures before they are required by regulations.

However, the new posting asks for permission from the Office of Management and Budget to conduct the survey.

FMCSA said it plans to gauge the relative effectiveness of the safety technologies, programs and policies based on the expert opinion and performance metrics of the high performing carriers.

Specifically, the agency’s plan calls for electronic surveys of an estimated 112 participating and 113 nonparticipating carrier operational managers.

FMCSA "Beyond Complian... by Transport Topics on Scribd

The agency is seeking public comment on its plan for 30 days after its anticipated Federal Register posting Aug. 18.

FMCSA said that those participants chosen will be given a link to complete the survey using an online survey tool such as Survey Monkey or Qualtrics. The survey results would then be analyzed to determine the safety program elements that were most frequently scored the highest across participants.

“The resulting information would reveal the elements of safety programs that these motor carriers are using and their achieved results, and what these motor carriers believe to be the most effective for achieving safety and should be included in a Beyond Compliance program,” the agency said.

Besides those carriers invited by the agency to participate in the survey, FMCSA said it will reach out to the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to invite them to voluntarily survey members as a supplemental data collection to the structured design.

“This would enable greater participation by smaller carriers and owner-operators, and would also enable a wider perspective of responses,” FMCSA said.

American Trucking Associations has supported the idea of finding ways to reward carriers that have voluntarily adopted tools and technologies meant to improve safety.

The results of the data collection will be analyzed and integrated into the pilot study report. Both descriptive and analytical methods will be employed during the data analysis, FMCSA said. The results of the study will be documented in a technical report that will be delivered to and maintained by the agency.

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