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NewsRegulationTrucking

FMCSA may face trouble in assessing carrier safety scores

A federal watchdog has warned the trucking industry’s top regulator that more changes are needed to improve how it evaluates carrier safety compliance.

In a 27-page report made available on September 27, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) asserted that while a safety action plan by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) partially addresses issues identified in a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study, “it lacks implementation details for improving transparency and its assessment of carrier safety rankings.”

The NAS study, issued in June 2017, made six recommendations to help FMCSA improve the accuracy of its carrier prioritization methodology that’s used in its Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program. Carriers that have scores above certain thresholds can receive enforcement interventions that range from warning letters to onsite investigations.

The OIG conducted its evaluation over the last year to see if FMCSA’s action plan addressed the NAS recommendations, as required under the FAST Act legislation that became law in 2015.

One recommendation FMCSA has been addressing is that it use a statistical model known as item response theory (IRT) to replace its current safety measurement system (SMS) for prioritizing carrier safety interventions. FMCSA confirmed in the OIG report that it plans to complete testing of the IRT model by September 30 and decide whether to adopt it by September 2020.

But FMCSA did not fully respond to recommendations to improve SMS transparency and carrier safety rankings, according to the OIG. While the Agency acknowledged benefits to making SMS data publicly available on the web, “FMCSA neither explained how these would be user-friendly nor included FAST Act-required estimated costs or an implementation plan,” the report states.

FMCSA’s action plan also lacks details on how it would improve how it assesses motor carrier safety rankings – by using percentile rankings and relative and absolute measures, for example – to help determine which carriers receive safety alerts, the OIG contended. It noted that the agency plans to address this once it decides whether to adopt the IRT model. However, “until the Agency makes this decision, it may face delays in making its [Motor Carrier Management Information System] database, safety measures, and rankings more transparent – whether it continues to rely on SMS or turns to the IRT model.”

In a response letter to the OIG dated September 5, FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez stated that his agency partially concurred with OIG recommendations to provide certain staffing, enforcement, and data collection costs associated as recommended by NAS.

However, Martinez said his agency “has no immediate plans to collect data on carrier exposure and additional crash data,” after reaching out to the industry and determining that much of the data doesn’t exist.

“Upon completion of the IRT modeling by September 30, 2019, FMCSA will decide how to move forward with its prioritization methodology, including providing estimates and benchmarks to complete the remaining open NAS recommendations,” Martinez stated. “FMCSA plans to make this decision by September 30, 2020, after completing a full review of the IRT model.”

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

10 Comments

    1. Victor, yes it one accident is too many though can”t stop from them occuring but I use the bendix technologhy that .ay help those old drivers & young drivers avoid accidents. It warns you when you are following to close & wben a vehicle is by your side among other features. I feel that this article doesn’t explain the diference of the two models such as the iirf what’s that?

  1. The FMCSA doesn’t need to have a scoring system period. The FMCSA and the inspector general’s office should be fined 10,000 dollars every day that they have a scoring system up. This has done nothing for the transportation industry.

    1. If they don’t want the Data then why are they harassing the trucking industry with all bureaucracy of doing it this is cost the trucking companies money + good drivers. The FMCSA and the government needs to back off of the trucking industry they have enforced so many rules to the point that a person can’t make money the good drivers the old drivers are stepping out of this industry. Plus you have the automative trucks that’s coming on board so I’m wondering we’re all this is fitting in with the FMCSA and the data the government Martinez and the FMCSA has really destroyed the trucking industry and for what?

  2. People making rules that is clueless to what they doing 😡 and it hurts the people who live the truck drivers life.

    1. I think that the all government imployes in transportation should have to spend 5 to 10 years driving the type of equipment that thay are going to be making the rules for!!!

  3. Ray Martinez is directing an Entity that is out of touch!
    Thousands of drivers who leave a company soon find out that their Company lied to them saying every time a parking lot incident took place, or a Tow truck had to be called was a DOT regulated thing…called a “crash”….!!!
    I’m just finding out the Carriers are told to do this by Safety!!!
    This allows the Carrier to carry out ” discrimination”, while under Legal priviledge to do so!!
    Did you all READ that???!!??!
    Yes, legally allowing them to pick and choose by telling a driver, ..or NOT—–“Oh that was chargeable…”…
    Yep, read it and weep..
    I’m reporting this discrepancy to my Senators!!!!!
    That is validated and allowable discrimination!!
    You bet we are angry.. I’m following through on this puppy!¡

  4. Unless you have been a Driver you have no clue what goes on out here . They put the registrations on us and not where they need to be put . Like on the shipper and receiver’s and brokers . I have been driving since 1990 I’ve seen this profession get some better for us but for everything they make better there’s 5 things they make worst we need to all unite and say enough is enough it wouldn’t take long to get what we need but nooooo it will never happen so quit bitching unless you are ready to do something about it!!!!!!!

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