Arkansas Trucking Association

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SFD Rulemaking Withdrawn by FMCSA

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Just over a year after issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in March withdrew its controversial plan for a “Safety Fitness Determination” program. The rulemaking was intended to further the Agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) platform by using roadside inspection data and other on-road safety indicators – as well as investigation findings – to rate a carrier’s “fitness” to operate.

In lieu of the longstanding safety ratings of Satisfactory, Conditional, and Unsatisfactory, a single rating of Unfit would be utilized for carriers so designated. All other carriers would be assumed to be operating in a "satisfactory" state with no corresponding value.

David O’Neal, ATA’s director of safety services, noted that the Agency had found itself in a perfect storm of unfavorable conditions. “First, you have an incoming administration which, on the tenth day after inauguration, issued an executive order mandating a one-in/two-out policy, meaning that for every new proposed regulation, two others had to be considered for removal. Second, while the overall concept of using data to guide decision-making was good, FMCSA has struggled for some time to demonstrate that its data – and how they used the data – actually correlated to improved safety performance. It’s been before Congress, which in 2015 ruled they had to remove CSA BASIC scores from public view.

O'Neal also observed that Congress, through the December 2015 FAST Act, had mandated the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to get involved and conduct a correlation study on how accurate the data is in identifying high-risk carriers.

In its formal announcement withdrawing the rule, FMCSA indicated it would review the correlation study before determining whether a future rulemaking on the matter would be considered.

O'Neal concluded, "Rather than try to keep pushing this program through these headwinds, I think the Agency made a good decision to pull this back until the study is complete, and they have a better handle on the Trump administration’s regulatory outlook.”

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Arkansas Trucking Association
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