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Overdrive Staff | August 05, 2011

Report: Driver data could go public

A report to Congress says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants authority to release driver safety data. Doing so would, in effect, reverse FMCSA’s earlier stance that drivers would not be publicly ranked under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

The agency is seeking increased regulatory authority over drivers via the next highway reauthorization bill, according to a February Government Accountability Office report to Congress on CSA progress. If FMCSA “gains this authority,” the report reads, “the agency plans to make driver safety data public.”

Asked if the intention was to create a public driver ranking system similar to the agency’s CSA motor carrier percentile ranking system, FMCSA spokeswoman Candice Tolliver said, “The Department of Transportation is committed to working with Congress to address this issue.” Requests for clarification went unanswered.

The agency intended years ago to go public with driver data, said John Hill, FMCSA administrator from 2006 to 2008. “We wanted to make sure there was authority to do so, and so would minimize any lawsuits that might arise from some interested party that would not agree with rating drivers.”

A source within FMCSA, speaking off the record, stressed that making public the driver percentile rankings in the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories of the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS) “has always been the long-term vision.”

Currently, drivers are not ranked against their peers in the BASICs. Data from their inspections is accessible officially only by prospective employers through the Pre-Employment Screening Program.

When FMCSA initially presented CSA to carriers and drivers in 2009, information about the DSMS was not differentiated from the Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS) in the same way it is today.

FMCSA has contended the DSMS is an internal tool that will be used only by FMCSA staff during carrier investigations. “Under CSA, individual CMV drivers are not assigned safety ratings,” says the CSA website, csa.fmcsa.dot.gov.

FMCSA’s May-released draft 2011-2016 regulatory goals plan makes no specific mention of the DSMS. The plan does refer to continuing development of “a methodology to assess the safety fitness of drivers to further identify unsafe drivers who should not be in the industry.” That process is not mentioned, however, in the anticipated outcomes listed in the strategic plan, suggesting achieving the goal could be more than five years away.

— Todd Dills



SHORT HAULS

NORTH AMERICAN CLASS 8 truck orders for June are projected at more than 20,000 units for the eighth straight month, according to ACT Research Co. and FTR Associates. FTR preliminary data show June Class 8 truck total net orders for truck makers down 9 percent from May. June orders were 33 percent higher than the same month a year earlier.

USED TRUCK SALES dropped about 15 percent in May from April, due to a lack of available inventory, according to ACT Research Co. ACT also reported U.S. trailer net orders fell 9 percent in May from April, the second consecutive monthly decline for the industry.

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