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FMCSAs carrier safety rating system may change again

Roadside inspection data may be used as part of the fitness determination.

Posted September 2, 2023

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking another run at improving the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) process for carriers operating in or affecting interstate commerce. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) was published in the Federal Register on August 29, 2023. Comments must be received on or before October 30, 2023.

The ANPRM is FMCSA's second attempt to revamp its safety rating methodology, the last time being in 2016. FMCSA withdrew that rulemaking in 2017.

ANPRM overview

According to FMCSA, the current SFD process is resource-intensive and reaches a small percentage of the over 750,000 active carriers in the United States, hence FMCSA's efforts to shape a proposed rule that effectively and efficiently targets the right carriers. FMCSA's ANPRM requests public comments on:

  1. The need for a rulemaking to revise the regulations prescribing the safety rating process;
  2. The available science or technical information to analyze regulatory alternatives for determining motor carrier safety fitness;
  3. Feedback on the agency's current safety rating regulations, including the process and impacts; and
  4. The available data and costs for regulatory alternatives that are likely to be considered.

More specifically, FMCSA requests answers to questions in the following areas:

  • The effectiveness of the current three-tier system of Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory;
  • Modifications to the current administrative review process, the list of acute and critical violations, and the calculations;
  • Whether passenger carrier standards should be higher than those set for property carriers and how;
  • The impact of potential SFD changes on states;
  • The feasibility of using the Safety Measurement System (SMS) data in the rating of carriers, given that inspection data does not affect the current methodology;
  • How driver performance and violation data could be used; and
  • Whether a carrier's use of safety technologies should be a factor and how.

This article was written by Mark Schedler of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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