""Right now, as an industry we just feel like more of a victim of the process rather than a part of the process."
That's a quote from bulk hauler Payne Trucking's safety director, Chris Haney, one of two speakers on a panel moderated by Overdrive Senior Editor Todd Dills in February on the particular process Haney referred to. Namely, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's DataQs system for correcting errors in data around inspections and associated violations, as well as recordable crashes. A big sticking point for carriers when it comes DataQs has always been the perception, often enough a reality, that the review process is biased against them. When appeals of inspections, for instance, are handled by the department or even the actual officer who issued the violation or handled the crash, carriers feel the deck is stacked against an impartial review.
In the above excerpt from the February discussion, Chris Turner of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance details the organization's efforts to test a formal appeals system for DataQs reviews that hopes to introduce greater fairness. When DataQs requests remain unresolved after carriers' attempts to correct the record, CVSA has conceived a panel of law enforcement representatives and industry representatives, as Turner details here, to make final determinations on the national level, assuming buy-in from state enforcement departments, the industry and FMCSA.
About that idea, "anything that more involved industry representatives," Haney said, including drivers and carriers actively participating, "would go a long way toward developing that relationship" with law enforcement and regulators, "so that there's a little more trust" on all sides.
"There are bad actors out there," he added, on all sides of that equation, "but it is such a small percentage of drivers and carriers. ... [And] yet we're all judged as an industry on the actions of those few. It's frustrating on our part."
Read much more about DataQs in Overdrive's early-2021 "Setting the Record Straight" package:
Criticism mounts of DataQs crash/inspection-info review system
Correcting errors: How they can happen, how they hurt
Two states, CVSA lead way in countering DataQs appeals bias
How to mount an effective DataQs challenge
Podcast: Fairness in Minnesota's DataQs appeals process