The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a system for evaluating the safety of truck carrier groups and operators, and it has garnered less than ringing endorsements from voices within the industry.
In fact, observations noted by the FMCSA in a recent report related to its so-called Compliance, Safety, Accountability system have drawn a withering response from trucking organizations who state that the federal regulator is off base in its thinking and evaluative process.
As noted in a recent media article on truck accidents in the commercial carrier industry, most police accident reports include crash fault-related information. Reportedly, the FMCSA could cull and use that data to determine carriers with comparatively problematic safety records and at the highest risk for repeat accidents.
Notwithstanding such data, though, and the FMCSA’s acknowledgment of its existence, the agency is loathe to use it, stating that rendering it useful would take too much time and money. Federal regulators also say, perhaps ironically, that fault determination is simply not that useful as a barometer for measuring future accident probabilities.
Instead, they note, a carrier’s crash involvement alone, without consideration of who was at fault, is a strong predictor of crash possibilities in the future.
National trucking groups are uniformly opposed to any FMCSA evaluation that does not include at-fault analysis. A senior official with the American Trucking Associations says that taking account of any accident that is clearly not the fault of a truck driver is unfair “and certainly should not be used to target his or her carrier for potentially intrusive government oversight.”
The FMCSA is presently soliciting public comments on its report and on the degree to which it should consider — or ignore — a truck driver’s role in an accident when determining carrier safety.