The month of August will bring a huge change to Compliance, Safety and Accountability program scores as assessed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Drivers will now have the benefit of a new "not preventable" classification for eight different types of crashes. The change was made based on "positive feedback from industry stakeholders," said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at the 2019 Mid America Trucking Show on March 29 of this year.
The announcement is the culmination of a two-year effort known as the Crash Preventability Demonstration Project, a project created to help prevent on road accidents with professional drivers, especially those when the professional driver was at fault. One of the most important aspects of the project was to better assess and organize data about non-preventable accidents.
The FMCSA seems to be attempting to remove as much bureaucracy from the new program's implementation as possible. A spokesperson for the organization has stated that the demonstration program can be made official without a formal rulemaking.
Currently, the program does allow professional drivers to classify certain types of crashes as "not preventable" within the Safety Measurement System profile of a carrier. The process of determination for this distinction, however, is currently quite arduous. A carrier must go through an extensive process that includes a request for data review. It is also the responsibility of the carrier to prove through documentation that it could not have prevented the crash. As of the implementation of the program, only eight types of crashes have the ability to be challenged through the system.
The demonstration project will fix the huge problem of not allowing a carrier to list whether it was at fault or not during fatal crashes. The new demonstration program will allow a recalculation of the Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) score, the score that directly affects CSA carrier ratings.
The new program requires that a crash meet the following criteria to be considered for a rating of "not preventable”:
-A vehicle must have been towed away from a crash scene;
-A crash must result in medical injuries that must be immediately treated away from the scene;
-An accident must result in at least one fatality.
Before the implementation of the program, the eight types of crashes that are automatically reviewed include the following:
-A motorist who is driving under the influence strikes a commercial vehicle.
-A motorist is driving in the wrong direction and strikes a commercial motor vehicle.
-A motorist strikes a commercial motor vehicle in the rear.
-A motorist strikes a commercial motor vehicle that is legally parked or stopped.
-A person tries to commit suicide by driving/stepping in front of a commercial motor vehicle.
-A commercial motor vehicle is damaged after striking an animal on a road, and this causes a crash.
-A commercial motor vehicle is struck by a falling or rolling object such as a rock or a tree.
-A commercial motor vehicle is struck by another vehicle's equipment or cargo.
The program represents a huge about-face for the FMCSA. Many experts believe that pressure from the industry created the onus for this change of heart.