Trucker's Applaud FMCSA'S Decision to Withdraw Motor Carrier Safety Rule: Further Study Required
To the relief of the country’s trucking organizations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration withdrew March 22 its January 2016 proposal to rework the way it rates carriers and determines their fitness to operate.
FMCSA’s decision to rescind the Safety Fitness Determination rule comes a few weeks after industry groups asked new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to kill the rule.
The safety rule was issued as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last January. FMCSA says it had planned to issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this year to rework the rule and solicit industry feedback on the changes.
However, widespread concern over the rule’s reliance on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System BASIC ratings — which also have also been pulled from public view due to concerns about their accuracy in judging carriers’ safety — FMCSA says it decided to withdraw the safety rule proposal all together and start anew. Trucking industry officials applauded the decision.
“We have long supported using data to target enforcement activities against bad actors in our industry,” said American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear. “However, numerous reviews have shown flaws in the [data and in the CSA system. So it makes sense to withdraw this rule, which would have used CSA data to create publicly available fitness ratings.”
Congress in late 2015 required FMCSA to pull the SMS BASIC carrier rankings from public view, given their myriad of flaws and what’s seen as a limited ability to accurately score carriers. Congress also required the agency to work with the National Academies of Science to reform the program to better achieve its goal of targeting unsafe operators.
The agency says it will wait to reissue a Safety Fitness Determination proposal until the CSA SMS revamp has been implemented.
The proposal, if made final, would have done away with the Conditional, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory rating system, in favor of a simple Fit and Unfit designation. The rule would have also allowed the agency to put carriers out of service based on CSA BASIC ratings alone, rather than an intervention and on-site compliance review.