Letter to Secretary Chao seeking to block safety rule

Elaine Chao
Secretary Elaine Chao

The following is the text of the letter sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao asking her to rescind the proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule:

Dear Secretary Chao:

            As representatives of the commercial motor vehicle operator industry representing property and passenger carriers, we write to you regarding an important federal motor carrier regulatory issue needing your prompt attention.

            The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: “Carrier Safety Fitness Determination” on January 21, 2016. The current safety fitness rating system ranks carriers as Satisfactory, Conditional or Unsatisfactory based on a comprehensive safety compliance review.

            The rule proposes to radically modify the Safety Fitness rating system in which carriers are evaluated for both the enforcement community and the general public. The new methodology would be based on on-road safety data using five of the Agency’s seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs); an investigation, which will consider all seven BASICs, or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

            The proposed new system would remove all of the existing ratings and create only one rating, “Unfit.”

            Our major concern with the proposal is that the new proposed methodology utilizes flawed Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program/Safety Measurement System (SMS) data and scores, which Congress directed the agency to review and reform just months earlier in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Systems Act (FAST Act) enacted in December of 2015.

            Those reforms are in process with initiation of a study by the National Academy of Sciences and their final report is expected in June of this year. As representatives of the commercial motor vehicle operator industry representing property and passenger carriers, we do not believe it makes sense to build a new safety fitness determination system upon a flawed system which is currently undergoing Congressionally mandated review and reform and is likely to change. While we support the goal of an easily understandable, rational safety fitness determination system, this proposal is built on a flawed foundation.

            We urge you to rescind this ill-advised and harmful rulemaking immediately and participate fully in the reform of the CSA/SMS process as mandated by Congress. We look forward to working with you on this important issue. For responses or questions on this letter, please contact Becky Weber at (202) 530-4811.

Thanks very much for your consideration.


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