While much of the motor carrier industry supports a properly designed Beyond Compliance program, groups have taken issue with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed eighth Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) to give carriers credit for adopting safety tools, technologies and programs. Congress last year mandated the program in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), although FMCSA already was pursuing the initiative.
The American Trucking Associations noted that the FAST Act allows FMCSA to implement a Beyond Compliance program through either improvement of existing SMS scores or by developing an eighth BASIC. ATA said it was disappointed that the agency chose an eighth BASIC for expediency because market dynamics force carriers to focus on lowering their CSA scores so as not to lose freight opportunities. An immediate improvement in SMS scores, therefore, would be the best way to encourage carriers to adopt safety tools, technologies and programs, ATA said.
Similarly, ATA objected to the proposed exclusion of carriers with conditional ratings, saying that it does not make sense to disqualify carriers that could benefit most from improvements in safety. The association also noted that many conditional ratings are very old because FMCSA has only enough resources to conduct compliance reviews on a very small portion of the industry.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association raised concerns over a stand-alone Beyond Compliance BASIC on the grounds that there is little information on exactly what FMCSA is proposing and because SMS itself is seriously flawed. “OOIDA and other organizations have submitted comments to FMCSA in multiple proceedings detailing the futility of the BASIC methodology to inform the agency or the public about the relative safety performance of motor carriers.”
The Truckload Carriers Association also faulted FMCSA’s reliance on credit under SMS, either in existing BASICs or in an eighth BASIC. The group said that “CSA and its history of data discrepancies certainly lends itself to being one of the least desirable options that we, as an industry, could fathom.”
Another concern raised by OOIDA and TCA, among others, is the notion that FMCSA’s program inherently will favor larger carriers that can afford to acquire technology. TCA noted that smaller carriers do not have the resources to be early adopters of technology that might not yet be proven to improve safety. “The idea of awarding recognition or credit to carriers, while others can only wait until the data is disseminated and available mainstream is irresponsible and discriminatory,” TCA said.
OOIDA objected to the idea that carriers could get credit “simply because they have the money and the economies of scale to purchase equipment and adopt new practices because they claim to improve safety. If there is no real improvement in safety or crash reduction, then such carriers’ embellished safety records would unfairly rank them better than other motor carriers simply because they can afford it, not because they are safer.”
More than 100 comments were filed on FMCSA’s Beyond Compliance proposal, including filings by the National Transportation Safety Board, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a number of trade associations, carrier owners and drivers and vendors of various safety-related technologies. For a copy of FMCSA’s proposed Beyond Compliance Program, visit https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-09118. To view comments on a Beyond Compliance program, visit http://bit.ly/BYComments.