UMA-led coalition wants ‘flawed’ safety rule rescinded

WASHINGTON — A coalition of groups representing property and passenger carriers, led by the United Motorcoach Association, has requested that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao rescind the Carrier Safety Fitness Determination notice of proposed rulemaking issued more than a year ago.

The proposed rule would establish a new motor carrier safety rating system based on scores generated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.

In a letter to Chao, the industry groups contend that the safety fitness determination proposal should be placed on hold until FMCSA fixes the CSA system, as it was ordered to do by Congress.

The groups say there are a number of flaws in the data that drives the current Safety Measurement System (SMS) within CSA.

Ken Presley, vice president of industry relations and chief operating officer at UMA, said FMCSA is seeking to eliminate the current rating system for motor carriers and to identify them only as either fit or unfit to operate.

“It is inappropriate for passenger carriers,” Presley said of the proposed change.

FMCSA said it was proposing to adopt “revised methodologies” for determining when a motor carrier is not fit to operate based on the carrier’s on-road safety performance in relation to five of the seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) tracked by the agency’s CSA program, an investigation, or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

“The intended effect of this action is to more effectively use FMCSA data and resources to identify unfit motor carriers and to remove them from the nation’s roadways,” the agency stated.

The more than 60 groups that signed the letter – including several state motorcoach associations affiliated with UMA — said their major concern with the proposal is that it would use a methodology built on “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.”

The letter points out that those CSA reforms are in process via a study by the National Academy of Sciences, with the final report expected in June.

The coalition said it doesn’t make 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 rule making immediately and participate fully in the reform of the CSA/SMS process as mandated by Congress.”

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