Trucking pressure to stop FMCSA from working on new carrier rating system gains traction in House

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A group of 33 members of the U.S. House last week sent a letter to senior members of the House’s Appropriations Committee asking them to put a stop to the DOT’s Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rulemaking. The 33 Representatives asked for a provision stating as much to be included in the coming drafts of the 2017 DOT funding bills.

Dozens of trucking industry associations and lobbyists have urged Congress in recent weeks to halt to the agency’s January-released SFD proposal until the agency can implement the FAST Act-required reforms to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. The March 17 letter issued by the 33 members of the House makes the same request. Per the letter:

“We respectfully urge you to include a prohibition of funds on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from finalizing the Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking until all reforms related to the Compliance, Safety and Accountability…mandated by the FAST Act are completed.”

The ad-hoc carrier coalitions — which have included the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Western States Trucking Association, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, many state trucking associations and dozens of other trucking groups — argue the SFD rule violates the FAST Act’s CSA reform measures.

The Safety Fitness Determination rule if final would do away with the Satisfactory, Conditional and Unsatisfactory carrier rating system in place today and replace it with a simple fit or unfit determination.

Those determinations, however, would be based in part on data and scoring in CSA’s Safety Measurement System and its seven BASICs. Congress directed FMCSA in its December-enacted FAST Act law to pull the BASIC percentile rankings from public view until FMCSA can develop a plan to fix the program’s perceived flaws. Since the agency proposes using scores and data from the BASICs to form SFD ratings, the rule’s issuance violates federal law, the trucking groups argue in their letters to Congress.

The March 17 letter to top appropriators, likewise, argues the same, leaning heavily on the arguments made by the carrier groups’ letters. “Common sense dictates that FMCSA should complete the reforms to the CSA/SMS system before proceeding to a new method of evaluating safety fitness of carriers,” the letter states. “It is irresponsible and inconceivable that FMCSA would use the same data and analysis Congress said is faulty in a new safety fitness determination.”

“Incorporating misleading safety data and analysis into a new safety fitness determination will not provide the desired safety to the travelling public,” the letter continues.

Click here to see the letter and the 33 lawmakers who signed it.

Click here to read more on the agency’s proposed Safety Fitness rule.

And click here to read prior coverage of industry groups’ request for Congress to step in and block the rulemaking.

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