November 15, 2014 – Safety & Compliance

DOT Denies Industry Request to Take CSA Scores Offline

In a letter dated October 30, 2014, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx denied a request from industry to remove all CSA scores from public view. The American Trucking Associations and a dozen other trade associations sent an August 22, 2014, request to Secretary Foxx to remove the CSA scores from public view on the agency’s website, as the data is not sufficiently comprehensive or reliable, but is being used by shippers, insurers and the courts in a manner not intended by the FMCSA.

Secretary Foxx’s response confirms the department’s intent to keep the scores public and goes on to say that DOT disagrees with the finding of the Government Accountability Office that scores are unreliable indicators of future crash risk. Moreover, it sidesteps discussing the reliability of scores by focusing on the benefits of using them for enforcement prioritization. As a result, motor carriers will continue to support a bill introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, that would bar the FMCSA from making motor carrier’s safety scores and rankings publicly available under the CSA program until the agency submits a report to Congress on its efforts to improve the CSA system.

H.R. 5532, the Safer Trucks and Buses Act of 2014, would ensure that covered motor carrier data is not made available to the public. In addition, such data could not be admitted into evidence or otherwise used in any lawsuit or other civil action for damages resulting from an incident involving a motor carrier. “Covered motor carrier data” is defined to mean data generated with respect to a motor carrier under CSA, including any ranking, rating, score or other measurement. The bill also requires the FMCSA to submit a study to Congress within one year on recommendations to improve CSA, including how the program:

  1. Utilizes and generates only safety data and scores, including Safety Measurement System scores, determined to be predictive of motor carrier accidents;
  2. Appropriately addresses concerns relating to the age of utilized safety data, including violations;
  3. Does not unfairly harm small motor carriers as a result of limited safety data availability;
  4. Appropriately addresses differences between motor carriers transporting passengers and motor carriers transporting freight;
  5. Generates safety data that allows individual motor carriers, including safety scores assigned to individual motor carriers, to be effectively compared; and,
  6. Utilizes accurate safety data, including—
    1. by appropriately addressing variations between State- and self-reported data;
    2. by accounting for geographic disparities with respect to enforcement; and
    3. by utilizing only crash data from crashes with respect to which a motor carrier was at fault.

FMCSA Plans to Survey New CDL Drivers on Training

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has requested approval from the Office of Management and Budget to survey recently licensed CDL drivers on the training they have received both before and after receiving a CDL. 79 Fed. Reg. 66448 (November 7, 2014). The stated purpose of the survey is to study the relationship of commercial driver license entry level driver training, as influenced by any subsequent employer training that may have been received, to safety performance of the drivers.

The FMCSA plans to survey truck and bus drivers who have begun driving in the past 3 years. Drivers both with and without Hazardous Materials Endorsements will be included in the survey.

The FMCSA is going forward with plans to conduct a negotiated rulemaking on entry-level driver training early next year. The neg-reg is expected to run through mid-2015; the FMCSA hopes the discussions will generate a consensus on which to develop a proposed rule.

In the meantime, the FMCSA has been sued by the Teamsters, Public Citizen, and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in the federal court of appeals in the District of Columbia to force the agency to issue a final rule on entry-level driver training within 180 days. The lawsuit, filed September 18, 2014, does not specify what requirements the litigants want included in the final rule on driver training.

Unified Carrier Registration

If you are in interstate commerce, you need to file and pay your fees for the Unified Carrier Registration program. The correct site to use is http://www.ucr.in.gov/. You can find other sites that will do this for you, but they charge a fee for something that you can very easily do for yourself. Using the site listed, there are no service fees other than the fees required based on the number of powered vehicles that you have crossing state lines. If you search the Internet, several of the first hits are companies trying to help you with the registration, but they sneak in filing fees on top of the registration fees.

The November 2014 Traffic Bulletin is all about the Unified Carrier Registration program and you can read more details there. If you have any questions, please contact GAWDA DOT, OSHA, EPA & Security Consultant Michael Dodd by email or 573-718-2887.

OMB Clears Advance NPRM on Minimum Financial Responsibility

The Office of Management and Budget has approved the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Minimum Financial Responsibility requirements for motor carriers, including hazardous materials carriers. This will allow the ANPRM to be published in the Federal Register in the very near future. The ANPRM will solicit comments on the need to increase the liability minimums, but will not contain a specific regulatory proposal. In April 2014, the FMCSA released the findings of its report to Congress on the adequacy of the minimum financial responsibility standards for for-hire motor carriers and hazardous materials transporters. The report concludes that these liability requirements, which have not changed since 1985, are overdue for revision.