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Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On Thursday, January 21, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) designed to enhance the Agency’s ability to identify non-compliant motor carriers.  The Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) NPRM would update FMCSA’s safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine a motor carrier’s overall safety fitness on a monthly basis.

The proposed SFD rule would replace the current three-tier federal rating system of “satisfactory-conditional-unsatisfactory” for federally regulated commercial motor carriers (in place since 1982) with a single determination of “unfit,” which would require the carrier to either improve its operations or cease operations. 

How can I find out more about the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)?

The proposal will be available at at docket number FMCSA-2015-0001.  The initial comment period has been extended until May 23, 2016.  Response comments will be accepted for an additional 30 days.

The Agency has developed a calculator for motor carriers to determine how the proposed rule would impact them.

What are the big differences? 

  • There would no longer be three safety ratings: satisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory. Rather, there would only be one safety rating: “unfit.”
  • Carriers would be assessed monthly, using fixed failure measures that are identified in the NPRM. Stricter standards would be used for those BASICS with a higher correlation to crash risk: Unsafe Driving and Hours of Service Compliance.
  • Violations of a revised list of “critical” and “acute” safety regulations would result in failing a BASIC. 
  • All investigation results would be used, not just from comprehensive on-site reviews.
  • A carrier could be proposed unfit by failing two or more BASICs through:
    • Inspections
    • Investigation results
    • A combination of both

The carriers identified in the Agency’s analysis have crash rates that are more than three times the national average.

Why is FMCSA proposing changes?

  • Currently, FMCSA and its State partners can only assess the safety of a small number of motor carriers.
  • Using additional safety data from our systems will allow FMCSA and its State partners to be more efficient in assessing carriers and identifying those that should be proposed unfit.
  • Under the present system, it is possible for carriers with a conditional safety rating to operate indefinitely. 
  • Through SFD proposal, a broader amount of safety data would be used in making the proposed determination.
  • Using the proposed process, the Agency estimates that 75,000 carriers a month would be assessed for safety fitness.

How is SFD different than the Safety Measurement System (SMS)? 

  • SFD is a safety rating system, SMS is prioritization system.
  • Under SFD, a motor carrier’s performance is compared to an absolute failure standard, not against other motor carriers.
  • A motor carrier’s SFD performance measures are not impacted by other carriers’ performance.
  • A higher data sufficiency standard is used in SFD; a motor carrier would need to have 11 or more inspections with violations in a BASIC before it could potentially fail the BASIC.

How would I know if this proposal would impact my company? 

If your company does not have 11 or more inspections with violations in two or more BASICs and/or an investigation with violations cited in the past month, you would not be impacted by this proposed rule.

See the calculator to understand how this proposal would impact a company.
Note: You should have your company’s SMS profile and most recent investigation report in-hand when using the calculator.

Updated: Monday, May 23, 2016
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