Rule changing carrier safety rating system yanked

A proposal to change how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rates carriers and determines their fitness to operate is being withdrawn.

The American Trucking Associations said the decision was a positive step for the agency to improving its Compliance, Safety, Accountability system.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this week said it will withdraw the Safety Fitness Determination rule, which has been in the works for a decade, Thursday, according to an advanced notice published Wednesday in the Federal Register by FMCSA. The withdrawal comes a few weeks after industry groups asked new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to kill the rule.

The SFD was issued as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last January. The agency says it had planned to simply issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this year to rework the rule and solicit industry feedback on the changes.

However, due to widespread concern over the rule’s reliance on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System BASIC ratings — which themselves have also been pulled from public view due to concerns about their accuracy in judging carriers’ safety — FMCSA says it decided to withdraw the SFD proposal all together and start anew.

The agency says it will wait to reissue a Safety Fitness Determination proposal until the CSA SMS revamp has been implemented.

Association responds

“ATA has long supported using data to target enforcement activities against bad actors in our industry,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “However, numerous reviews have shown flaws in the data and in the CSA system, so it makes sense to withdraw this rule which would have used CSA data to create publicly available fitness ratings.

“We look forward to FMCSA enacting necessary reforms to the CSA program based on this ongoing thorough review. Safety is our industry’s most important calling and having good data and using that data to make intelligent enforcement decisions is a critical to improving safety on our highways.”