Overdrive Extra

James Jaillet

SFD rule’s crash-risk disconnect: Data show most analyzed ‘Unfit’ carriers don’t crash

| June 03, 2016
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This chart shows the percentage of carriers who recorded a crash in the 12 months following an Unfit determination based on roadside inspection data alone. For smaller carriers, the “no crash” rate was even higher — upwards of 70 percent.

Will FMCSA’s proposal to alter the way it scores carriers — and, ultimately, puts them out of service — suffer from the same crash-risk disconnect as the current Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System?

A report published this week indicates it will, at least based on the carriers the agency said would have been deemed “Unfit” to operate when applying the new Safety Fitness Determination formula to a sect of carriers in 2011.

The Safety Fitness Determination rule — and the CSA system at large — are boring, technical subjects. But their impact on the industry and owner-operators’ livelihood shouldn’t be diminished, as Overdrive Senior Editor Todd Dills noted in a similar piece on the SFD rule this week.

SFD’s ties to the ‘discredited’ CSA SMS: Just one ‘fatal flaw’ in safety-rating rulemaking, coalition argues

Got CSA fatigue? This one's sure to tire you out, but take heed: the coalition of mostly small carrier-interest groups that's been active this past ...

Numbers obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation show that more than half (56 percent) of the carriers FMCSA said would have been deemed “Unfit” in 2011 under the inspection-based portions of the Safety Fitness Determination rule — and who remained in business for at least the next year — recorded zero crashes in that 12-month time span.

Perhaps even more concerning for owner-operators and small carriers, ASECTT’s Freedom of Information Act-obtained numbers show that 76 percent of carriers with five or fewer trucks, and who had been flagged Unfit to operate, recorded no crashes in the 12 months succeeding.

ASECTT obtained the data from FMCSA on May 4, according to a roughly 60-page comment filed by a coalition of carrier groups, including ASECTT, during the Safety Fitness Determination rule’s public comment period.

The numbers — and the questions they present about the proposed rule’s methodology — add to the mounting pressure the agency’s faced since publishing the proposed rule in January. The rule’s heavy use of data from the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System’s BASICs violates both federal law and common sense, trucking industry groups have argued. Legislation has also been presented in the U.S. House to block the agency from continuing to work on the rule, pending an overhaul of the CSA program.

The rule would replace the current Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory and Conditional rating system used by FMCSA to determine owner-operators’ ability to operate and would replace it with a single “Unfit” determination; all other carriers would be presumed fit to operate.

Data-mining firm: Safety rating rule not much of an improvement over current system

Data-mining firm: Safety rating rule not much of an improvement over current system

A new analysis by the CSA data-mining firm Vigillo concludes the SFD's roadside-data-only methodology to determine an unfit carrier is ineffective "in identifying a significant number ...

The rule also allows the agency to make the “Unfit” determination based on data alone: Any owner-operator failing two SMS BASICs will be hit with an immediate “Unfit” rating and will have a certain number of days to file a plan to fix the issues that ail them. Owner-operators failing one BASIC will be flagged for an investigation.

But carriers tagged Unfit based on CSA data alone may not pose the crash risk FMCSA claims they do, at least according to the numbers obtained by ASECTT.

Of the 211 carriers that FMCSA says would have been deemed Unfit due solely to their BASIC scores in 2011, more than half — 113 — recorded no crashes in the next 12 months.

Just five carriers of the 211 accounted for 27 percent of the group’s crashes in the next year-long period. Of the 211, 92 run five trucks or fewer, and 73 percent of those carriers recorded no crashes in the next 12 months.

These trends were even more pronounced for the 120 carriers who failed a BASIC and were then determined Unfit via an investigation. Of those carriers, 62 percent were not involved in a crash in the 12 months following the Unfit determination. For carriers running five or fewer trucks, 82 percent who were found Unfit recorded no crashes in the next 12 months.

See more coverage of the proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule — and the subsequent backlash — at the links below.

SFD’s ties to the ‘discredited’ CSA SMS: Just one ‘fatal flaw’ in safety-rating rulemaking, coalition argues

Got CSA fatigue? This one's sure to tire you out, but take heed: the coalition of mostly small carrier-interest groups that's been active this past ...

Data-mining firm: Safety rating rule not much of an improvement over current system

Data-mining firm: Safety rating rule not much of an improvement over current system

A new analysis by the CSA data-mining firm Vigillo concludes the SFD's roadside-data-only methodology to determine an unfit carrier is ineffective "in identifying a significant number ...

FMCSA issues rule proposal to tie safety rating directly to inspections, violations

FMCSA issues rule proposal to tie safety rating directly to inspections, violations

Another month, another major rule proposed by FMCSA: The SFD rule would revamp the three-tier safety rating program to incorporate roadside inspection/violation data in addition ...

House committee advances bill with trucking reforms on hours of service, pending owner-op rating rule

House committee advances bill with trucking reforms on hours of service, pending owner-op rating rule

The House’s Appropriations Committee has sent to the full House a Department of Transportation funding package that would permanently restore 2011 regulations pertaining to truckers’ ...

'A broken system': Small fleet owner on CSA, SFD reliance on roadside inspections, violations

‘A broken system’: Small fleet owner on CSA, SFD reliance on roadside inspections, violations

Hazmat, securement violations for a two-gallon tote holding spare oil? Check. Bob Delullo's thoughts on CSA and the proposed SFD rule are a variation on ...

Owner-operators, industry groups weigh in on proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule

Owner-operators, industry groups weigh in on proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule

The resounding sentiment from most that submitted comments on the rule was that the FMCSA is getting ahead of itself by issuing the rulemaking before ...

Safety Fitness rule not a violation of FAST Act, FMCSA says in media briefing touting rule's benefits

Safety Fitness rule not a violation of FAST Act, FMCSA says in media briefing touting rule’s benefits

Joe DeLorenzo, head of enforcement and compliance for FMCSA, spoke briefly in a conference call with trucking industry media Thursday, April 7, touting both the ...

Trucking groups fire back at FMCSA over carrier rating rule, say it circumvents Congressional intent

An ad-hoc coalition of trucking organizations issued a letter Monday, April 11, to Acting FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling disputing comments made by FMCSA’s Joe DeLorenzo ...

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