The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is adding another 30 days to the comment period on the agency’s attempt to develop a new process for measuring a motor carrier’s safety rating.
Dubbed the safety fitness determination process, FMCSA currently ranks trucking companies with three levels: satisfactory, conditional and unsatisfactory. On Aug. 29, the agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking to develop a new process for evaluating a motor carrier’s safety fitness.
Originally, the public had 60 days to comment on the proposal. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the American Trucking Associations and the American Bus Association asked the agency to extend the comment period.
In a notice set to publish Monday, Oct. 23, it will extend the comment period 30 days, creating a new deadline of Nov. 29.
The agency currently awards a carrier safety fitness determination to a trucking company only after conducting a compliance review. That process is time consuming, limiting the number of trucking companies reviewed. In fiscal year 2019, there were 11,671 compliance reviews conducted out of the 567,000 possible interstate carriers.
FMCSA’s CSA Safety Measurement System is not used to generate safety fitness determinations. The program scores trucking companies in a variety of categories, such as unsafe driving, hours-of-service compliance, vehicle maintenance and driver fitness.
However, the agency previously made a move to try to use a motor carrier’s CSA absolute score to generate unfit safety fitness determinations. That was met with extensive pushback, including from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the proposal was withdrawn in 2017.
The advance notice of proposed rulemaking is more a fishing expedition for information than an assessment of a proposal. FMCSA has 12 questions outlined that it is specifically seeking input on.
Among these are questions of whether the three-tier system should be retained, whether hazmat and passenger carriers should be evaluated differently and what aspects of safety management should be evaluated.
And while the agency is not specifically proposing to go back to its CSA Safety Measurement System proposal from 2016, the embattled program is still in play.
“Should the (Safety Measurement System) methodology be used to issue (safety fitness determinations), in a manner similar to what was proposed in the 2016 NPRM? If so, what adjustments, if any, should be made to that proposal? If not, should the (agency) include more safety data in the (safety fitness determinations) process in other ways and, if so, how?” the ANPRM notice states.
The CSA Safety Measurement System is also currently under review for proposed changes to DataQs, the data appeals process for trucking companies and truck drivers. The entire system has been heavily criticized since its 2010 rollout, and FMCSA proposed changes to it earlier in 2023.
How to comment
Once the advance notice of proposed rulemaking is published, the public will have until Nov. 29 to comment. To do so, go to the regulations.gov website and enter Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0003-0005 to read the full proposal and submit comments. LL