FMCSA clarifies two-year crash preventability program

WASHINGTON – A two-year crash preventability demonstration program apparently is causing confusion in the commercial motor vehicle industry, leading the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue a clarification about participating.

The program, launched last August, allows an operator to submit a request that FMCSA classify a crash as “not preventable” on the carrier’s Safety Measurement System profile in instances where the carrier was not at fault.

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.

Under the program, 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, 2017.

Since August 1, 2017, more than 2,500 RDRs have been submitted to FMCSA. Based on the experiences operating the program for the first few months, the agency identified some areas of the program requiring more instruction and details.

FMCSA said some participants in the program are incorrectly submitting requests by entering crashes under the standard review program by selecting “Not an FMCSA-reportable crash.”

That designation is for crashes that do not meet FMCSA’s recordable crash definition of a fatality, injury or property damage requiring a vehicle to be towed from the scene. RDRs entered into the standard review program will be closed without a preventability determination because they were not submitted under the demonstration program.

Instead, FMCSA said, participants submitting RDRs need to select “Crash could not be prevented” for the agency to consider the requests.

Other participants have been requesting the review of an ineligible crash. Examples include accidents that do not fall under the eight types of eligible crashes or those that occurred before June 1, 2017. The system will close the RDR without any action for ineligible crashes.

The eight types of eligible crashes are:

  • When the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) was struck by a motorist driving under the influence (or related offense)
  • When the CMV was struck by a motorist driving the wrong direction
  • When the CMV was struck in the rear
  • When the CMV was struck while it was legally stopped or parked, including when the vehicle was unattended
  • When the CMV struck an individual committing, or attempting to commit, suicide by stepping or driving in front of the CMV
  • When the CMV sustained disabling damage after striking an animal in the roadway
  • When the crash was the result of an infrastructure failure, falling trees, rocks or other debris
  • When the CMV was struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle

FMCSA also is reminding stakeholders that the burden of proof for preventability is placed on the submitter. Compelling evidence needs to be provided to the agency for consideration, including documentation that establishes the carrier could not have avoided the crash.

The United Motorocach Association has been a supporter of the program because the current Safety Measurement 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.

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