WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has launched a two-year crash-accountability demonstration program that will classify a crash as “not preventable” on a carrier’s Safety Measurement System profile in instances where the carrier was not at fault.
The program comes as good news to members of the United Motorcoach Association, who have long complained that the current SMS system doesn’t differentiate between crashes caused by the carrier and those where the carrier wasn’t at fault.
That results in the carrier receiving a negative safety profile even if they were not at fault and the crash wasn’t preventable.
Under the demonstration program, if a crash is found to be not preventable, a carrier’s private Crash Indicator Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, score will be recalculated with the crash omitted.
“Stakeholders have expressed concern that the Crash Indicator BASIC may not identify the highest-risk motor carriers for interventions and that the listing of crashes on the public website, without an indication of preventability, can give an inaccurate impression about the risk posed by the company,” FMCSA said in a Federal Register notice announcing the program.
“The data gathered through the demonstration program will allow the agency to better evaluate the utility of making crash preventability determinations.”
Under the program, expected to last two years, carriers have to submit a “request for data review,” or RDR, through the FMCSA’s DataQs system, attaching documentation that establishes the carrier could not have avoided the crash. The RDRs must be submitted for crashes that occurred on or after June 1 of this year.
Crashes covered under the program include those “resulting in fatalities, bodily injuries requiring immediate medical treatment away from the scene of the crash, or a vehicle being towed from the scene because of disabling damage,” the agency’s notice said.
FMCSA said a crash would be considered not preventable if the documentation submitted by the motor carrier or driver established that the vehicle was struck by a motorist who was convicted of one of the four following offenses or a related offense: driving under the influence, driving in the wrong direction, striking the CMV in the rear, or striking the CMV while it was legally stopped.
RDRs also can be submitted when an individual committed suicide by stepping or driving in front of the CMV, when a CMV was incapacitated by an animal in the roadway, or when the crash was the result of an infrastructure failure, such as falling trees, rocks or other debris or a CMV being struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle.
FMCSA will use contract resources to complete two stages of review within the DataQs system.
“In stage 1, the reviewer will collect all documents related to the crash from the submitter and FMCSA systems,” the agency’s notice said. “ In stage 2, an experienced crash report reviewer will evaluate all of the documents from the submitter and FMCSA systems.”
The stage 2 reviewer will confirm that the crash meets one of the crash types and, based on the evidence reviewed, will make a recommendation to FMCSA as to whether compelling evidence demonstrates that the crash was not preventable.
The FMCSA reviewer will review the evidence considered by the stage 1 reviewer and the stage 2 recommendation. If FMCSA agrees with the recommendation of not preventable, the crash will be posted for public input.
If the recommendation is for a determination that the crash was preventable or that the information submitted was insufficient to support a determination, and the FMCSA reviewer agrees, the determination of “preventable” or “undecided” would be noted in the public SMS display. Changes would be reflected on SMS within 60 days.
“The agency will consider all relevant evidence submitted,” FMCSA said in its Federal Register notice. “The burden is on the submitter to show by compelling evidence that the crash was not preventable.”