The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a proposed safety fitness determination rule that would use data from agency and roadside inspections and investigations, or both, in evaluating on a monthly basis whether a carrier is fit to operate.
The proposed rule would replace the current three-tier federal SafeStat rating system of "satisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory" for carriers used since 1982 with a single determination of "unfit," which would require the carrier to either improve or cease operations. A carrier could be proposed unfit by failing two or more Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) through inspections or investigation results, or a combination of both, the agency said.
Once in place, the rule will permit FMCSA to assess the safety fitness of approximately 75,000 companies a month using the agency's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program's safety measurement system methodology. FMCSA said it currently is only able to investigate 15,000 motor carriers annually.
The proposal said that based on experience and empirical data from the safety measurement system and interventions, the integration of on-road safety data into the safety fitness determination process would improve the assessment of motor carriers and the identification of unfit carriers. Such integration is a long-standing recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The agency estimated that under this proposal, fewer than 300 motor carriers each year would be proposed as "unfit" solely as a result of on-road safety violations. Further, the agency's analysis has shown that the carriers identified through this on-road safety data have crash rates of almost four times the national average.
The proposed fitness determination failure standards would be equivalent to the measures that would determine a motor carrier unfit at the 96th percentile for the Unsafe Driving and HOS Compliance BASICs - a rating that would put a carrier in the worst 4% of fleets that have measurable data in the system.
The agency is accepting comment on the rule for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which was January 21.
We encourage our members to file a comment on this proposed rule, as it will have a huge impact on the industry.