The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it hopes to significantly reduce truck-related crash fatality rates over the next five years by developing new credentialing and driver safety fitness standards, expanding its regulatory reach to include shippers and other industry players, and creating new programs aimed at weeding out high-risk motor carriers.
In its 2012-2016 strategic plan published this month, FMCSA said its commercial motor vehicle “Safety 1st Culture” will focus on all segments of the “transportation life-cycle,” including shippers, receivers, brokers and freight forwarders — all sectors that may have a “detrimental effect on safety through their actions.”
“The greatest potential for creating the safest CMV industry lies in focusing on outreach, oversight, and enforcement resources on the entire CMV transportation life-cycle,” the strategic plan said. “All elements of the CMV transportation life-cycle need to be aware of their impact on CMV safety, take responsibility for that impact, and be held accountable.”
FMCSA currently does not have the statutory authority to regulate shippers or receivers, but as a first step the agency is conducting research on the effect they have on drivers who get detained at loading docks. To regulate shippers and receivers, FMCSA would need to seek enabling legislation from Congress.
Another agency study will survey carriers to determine how they compensate their drivers, and what effect driver compensation packages have on safety.
FMCSA’s long-term strategies also include:
• Preventing poor carriers from continuing to operate under different company names.
• Stepping up efforts to ensure that only qualified drivers are behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.
• Addressing safety issues of a greater segment of the industry.
• Improving enforcement effectiveness and efficiency.
• Reducing the number of unsafe and high-risk behaviors by drivers and carriers.
Because the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is so dependent on accurate crash and inspection report data to determine a carrier’s safety fitness rating, FMCSA said it also will work to strengthen its partnerships and collaborations with state transportation and law-enforcement agencies.
“The FMCSA relies on key data reported by states for successful program development, and this data will become even more important as part of CSA,” the plan said. “The number of states with a data quality rating of ‘good’ has increased from 24 in December 2004 to 43 states in December 2011.”
Other agency five-year goals include:
• Increasing the number of fleets that create a “driver-focused safety culture.”
• Increasing the market penetration of onboard safety systems.
• Increasing the deployment of electronic data exchange and smart roadside technologies.
FMCSA also said it plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the CSA program, as well as the performance and effectiveness of its largest and various targeted grants to states.
The agency also indicted it intends to promote greater public involvement at all levels.
“A large number of stakeholders contribute to the success of FMCSA’s efforts to reduce CMV crashes, injuries and fatalities,” the agency said. “FMCSA relies on all of these stakeholders to support its safety mission, making this a combined priority in the CMV industry.
Safety advocacy groups, industry, associations and other Federal government partners play a vital role in the safety of the motoring public and the accomplishment of FMCSA’s goals.”
Source: Transport Topics; Monday, May 21, 2012 Byline: Eric Miller, Staff Reporter