What’s Wrong With the FMCSA’s Mission?

November 30, 2015 by Carina Ockedahl, @Ockis9

Over the years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published countless studies and issued a number of regulations in order to help reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities related to large trucks and buses. Many groups are in favor of improving road safety, but not everyone is aligned with how the FMCSA conducts its mission.

The Hours of Service rule is a prime example: Although the agency’s analysis followed the majority of commonly accepted research standards, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says it did not follow them all. The FMCSA reportedly made assumptions and anticipations in its report, partly as a result of a limited availability of truckers’ recorded HOS data. Whatever the case, GAO says the degree to which the agency said crash risk was reduced may have been exaggerated.

As for the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative, an October 2015 report by the American Transportation Research Institute notes that CSA’s safety measures are not the best predictor of carrier crash risk. This is due in part to the inclusion of non-preventable collisions in carriers/drivers’ scores, which would make the rankings unreliable. If this is the case, the ratings may prove harmful to good carriers’ safety reputations, said the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association via a CCJ report.

Furthermore, the American Trucking Associations, among others in the industry, were none to pleased with the FMCSA for making the potentially flawed rankings publicly available. That being said, not everyone is against the safety measures, and companies like Con-way (now XPO Logistics) are supportive of the FMCSA’s proposed program modifications.

Overall, the agency’s mission stems from a need to enhance road safety. But to ensure a more balanced and unconcealed process on how it reaches its goals, ATRI brings to light the idea of introducing “a standing industry oversight panel to review FMCSA-sponsored research plans, study methodologies, contractor selection, and research results.”

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