ATA asks FMCSA to revise calculation of safety ratings

The American Trucking Associations has once again called for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to revise how carriers' crash records are scored and reviewed. 

Carriers' safety scores under the FMCSA's Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program currently take into account data from all crashes, even those in which a carrier's driver was not at fault, a practice the ATA wants to revise. When these crashes are considered and factored into scores, some fear a transportation service company's record may give potential clients reason to believe a firm is unsafe or unreliable, even if they haven't been responsible for any collisions. 

"Just last month, police gave chase to a driver of a stolen car who crossed a grassy median and struck a truck head-on," said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. "It is clearly inappropriate for FMCSA to use these types of crashes to prioritize trucking companies for future government intervention, especially when responsibility for the crash is so obvious."

The ATA cited other examples of such incidents, including situations in which an intoxicated driver rear-ended a tanker and the pursuit of a stolen vehicle led to a crash involving a truck. 

Rules may be set to change in the future 
More than a year ago, the FMCSA halted potential plans to establish such criteria and opted to instead study the issue further. However, this has done little to change the ATA's opinion that the rules need to be altered. 

"FMCSA has been evaluating this issue for years and is not due to complete additional research until this summer," said Graves. "We don't need more research to conclude that it is inappropriate to use crashes like this to paint the involved trucking companies and professional drivers as unsafe."

How fleets can help keep drivers safe 
Until scoring is revised to exclude collisions in which the driver was not at fault, fleets may wish to take extra precautions to prevent or avoid other safety violations. Managers can ensure drivers are maintaining safe operating speeds and sound driving behavior by implementing solutions such as vehicle tracking and fleet management software systems, which will allow them to record and observe vehicle speed and driver actions such as hard-braking. Fleet maintenance management software integrated with electronic driver vehicle inspection reporting (DVIR) systems can also be useful to keep vehicles compliant with federal safety and repair requirements.