[Federal Register: July 24, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 141)]
[Rules and Regulations]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
49 CFR Part 390
Regulatory Guidance for Recording of Commercial Motor Vehicle
Accidents Involving Fires
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Regulatory guidance.
SUMMARY: The FMCSA announces regulatory guidance concerning its
definition of "accident." The regulatory guidance is presented in a
question-and-answer form. The guidance is generally applicable to
drivers, commercial motor vehicles, and motor carrier operations
subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. All prior
interpretations and regulatory guidance concerning the term
"accident" issued previously in the Federal Register, as well as
memoranda and letters, may no longer be relied upon as authoritative if
they are inconsistent with the guidance published today. This guidance
will provide the motor carrier industry and Federal, State, and local
law enforcement officials with uniform information for use in
determining whether certain vehicle fires must be recorded on the motor
carrier's accident register and considered in applying the Agency's
safety fitness procedures.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This regulatory guidance is effective on July 24, 2007.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Deborah M. Freund, Vehicle and
Roadside Operations Division, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and
Operations, (202) 366-4009, Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
The Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (Pub. L. 98-554, Title II, 98
Stat. 2832, October 30, 1984) (the 1984 Act) provides authority to
regulate drivers, motor carriers, and vehicle equipment. It requires
the Secretary to prescribe regulations on commercial motor vehicle
safety. The regulations shall prescribe minimum safety standards for
commercial motor vehicles. At a minimum, the regulations shall ensure
that--(1) commercial motor vehicles are maintained, equipped, loaded,
and operated safely; (2) the responsibilities imposed on operators of
commercial motor vehicles do not impair their ability to operate the
vehicles safely; (3) [[Page 40251]] the physical condition of operators of commercial motor vehicles is
adequate to enable them to operate the vehicles safely; and (4) the
operation of commercial motor vehicles does not have a deleterious
effect on the physical condition of the operators. (49 U.S.C. 31136(a))
Section 211 of the 1984 Act also grants the Secretary broad power, in
carrying out motor carrier safety statutes and regulations, to
"prescribe recordkeeping and reporting requirements" and to "perform
other acts the Secretary considers appropriate." (49 U.S.C. 31133(a)
(8) and (10))
The Administrator of FMCSA has been delegated authority under 49
CFR 1.73(g) to carry out the functions vested in the Secretary of
Transportation by 49 U.S.C. chapter 311, subchapters I and III,
relating to commercial motor vehicle programs and safety regulation.
This document provides regulatory guidance to the public with
respect to the definition of "accident" in Sec. 390.5 of the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), and the recording of
accidents as required under Sec. 390.15 of the FMCSRs.
Members of the motor carrier industry and other interested parties
may also access the guidance in this document through the FMCSA's
Internet site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Specific questions addressing any of the interpretive material
published in this document should be directed to the contact person
listed earlier under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, or the FMCSA
Division Office in each State.
Basis for This Guidance
The regulatory guidance in this notice responds to questions
concerning the definition of "accident" in 49 CFR 390.5: Are all
fires on CMVs considered reportable accidents?
Section 390.5 defines "accident" as an occurrence involving a
commercial motor vehicle operating on a highway in interstate or
intrastate commerce which results in a fatality; bodily injury to a
person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical
treatment away from the scene of the accident; or one or more motor
vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident,
requiring the motor vehicles to be transported away from the scene by a
tow truck or other motor vehicle. It excludes occurrences involving
only boarding and alighting from a stationary motor vehicle or
involving only the loading or unloading of cargo.
Fires were included in the original 1962 definition of "recordable
accident," but were not explicitly mentioned in later versions of the
FMCSRs. The Interstate Commerce Commission's (ICC) final rule of August
25, 1962 (27 FR 8551) defined "recordable accident," (for purposes of
filing a form MCS-50T for accidents involving property-carrying
vehicles or MCS-50B for accidents involving passenger-carrying
Any occurrence in the interstate, foregin [sic], or intrastate
operations of a motor carrier subject to Part II of the Interstate
Commerce Act, which * * * results in the death or injury of a
person, or in property damage * * * to an extent of $240.00 or more
* * *.
The term included, but was not limited to, eight types of
accidents. Item 4 was "fire or explosion in or on a motor vehicle."
A final rule of September 7, 1972 (37 FR 18079) eliminated the list
of examples of types of accidents and focused on three different
outcomes that would provide the criteria for reporting an accident. The
Agency revised the injury criteria to cover only injuries requiring
medical attention other than first aid at the accident scene, and
increased the threshold for property damage reporting to $2,000. The
Agency explained "Accidents which formerly fell into those special
categories, such as those involving overturn of a vehicle, fire, or
explosion, will continue to be reported if they result in death,
personal injury, or property damage of $2,000 or more." [emphasis
added] The property damage threshold was later raised to $4,400 before
being replaced with a "disabling damage" criterion in a final rule
published on February 2, 1993 (58 FR 6726). That final rule also
revised the injury criteria to cover bodily injury to a person who, as
result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from
the scene of the accident.
It has been the position of FMCSA and its predecessor agencies that
the definition of "accident" applies to both collision and non-
collision incidents involving commercial motor vehicles. If a fire or
explosion results in a fatality, an injury, or disabling damage to a
motor vehicle, it must be considered a recordable accident based on the
current regulatory definition under 49 CFR 390.5. Therefore, this
notice should not be construed to be a revision of the criteria for
recording CMV accidents. Rather, its purpose is to emphasize the
importance of recording CMV accidents as defined under Section 390.5
that do not necessarily involve collisions.
FMCSA acknowledges the potential impact on motor carriers' Safety
Status Measurement System (SafeStat) scores that could result from
States uploading reports about fires into the Agency's Motor Carrier
Management Information System. However, in the interest of safety, we
believe that we need to gather data on the prevalence of fires, and
that motor carriers must be responsible for documenting these events
and taking action to prevent injuries and fatalities associated with
CMV fires. The inclusion of fires in the Accident Safety Evaluation
Area (SEA) of SafeStat would, at its worst, only increase the
likelihood of an on-site review of the carrier's safety management
practices, depending on the number of these events.
PART 390--FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS; GENERAL
Section 390.5 Definitions
Question: Does an explosion or fire in a commercial motor vehicle
(CMV) that has not collided with other vehicles or stationary objects
meet the definition of an "accident" under Sec. 390.5?
Fires have been included in the definition of "accidents" since
1962. However, in an effort to simplify the regulatory text, the agency
removed the specific references to fires, rollovers, and other
noncollision accidents in 1972. As the agency indicated, however, its
intent was to include all of these items as accidents (37 FR 18079,
September 7, 1972).
A fire or explosion in a CMV operating on a highway in interstate
or intrastate commerce would be considered an "accident" if it
resulted in a fatality; bodily injuries requiring the victim to be
transported immediately to a medical facility away from the scene; or
disabling damage requiring the CMV to be towed. A collision is not a
pre-requisite to an "accident" under Sec. 390.5.
Any CMV fires that meet the accident criteria in 49 CFR 390.5--that
is, fires that occur in a commercial motor vehicle in transport on a
roadway customarily open to the public which result in a fatality,
bodily injury requiring immediate medical attention away from the scene
of the accident, or disabling damage requiring a vehicle to be towed--
will be considered in the safety fitness determination. As indicated in
Appendix B to 49 CFR Part 385, FMCSA will continue to consider
preventability when a motor carrier contests a safety rating by
presenting compelling evidence that the recordable rate is not a fair
means of evaluating its accident factor.
With regard to fires, preventability will be determined according
to the following: If a motor carrier, that exercises normal judgment
and foresight could have anticipated the possibility of the fire that
in fact occurred, and avoided it by taking steps within its control--
short of suspending operations--which would not have risked causing
another kind of mishap, the fire was preventable.
Issued on: July 17, 2007.
John H. Hill,
[FR Doc. E7-14092 Filed 7-23-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P