Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Proposes Big Changes to Motor Carrier Safety Fitness Determinations

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On January 15, 2016, the FMCA released a proposal to change the method for assigning motor carriers’ safety fitness determinations (SFD). Presently, a safety fitness determination (SFD) can only be made following an on-site compliance review. Compliance reviews are extremely labor intensive, and only a very small percentage of motor carriers can be evaluated every year. Thus, the information evaluated is merely a snapshot of the carriers’ overall safety performance, and information available on any particular motor carrier may be extremely outdated. Further, the current system relies on relatively limited roadside data.

Under the proposal, unfit would be the only rating available. If not unfit, the carrier may continue to operate. The FMCSA contends this will make it easier for those who hire transportation companies to determine what companies are able to lawfully operate. A carrier with a proposed unfit rating would be allowed to negotiate with the FMCSA and operate under a “Compliance Agreement.” Violation of the terms of the agreement would result in an unfit rating. Under the proposal, the FMCSA estimates that approximately 3,000 motor carriers would be deemed unfit. This is approximately 2.5 times the number of unsatisfactory ratings proposed annually now.

The FMCSA’s goal with this proposal is to incorporate a performance based approach using current data. Any carrier with failing performance in any two Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), based on roadside inspections, compliance reviews, or a combination of the two would be deemed unfit. Motor carriers would be compared monthly against a “failure standard,” established in each of the BASICs.

Take a look at a helpful presentation on the proposal by the FMCSA. State trucking associations are also a great resource to find out more about the FMCSA’s proposal.

By Larry Hall

Larry Hall

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