FMCSA Redefines “High-Risk” Carrier after Rebuke from NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently announced that a deadly truck accident was the result of driver fatigue and a high-risk motor carrier’s deficient safety procedures. The NTSB criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for “inadequate safety oversight of high-­risk carriers.”

“High-risk carriers are a threat to all who use our roadways,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “Such carriers cannot be permitted to operate with impunity, as did the two carriers involved in this tragic and preventable accident. The recent recommendations, if implemented, will expand the FMCSA’s toolkit for ensuring that high risk carriers either conduct their businesses safely or cease operations.”

In response, the FMCSA issued a release stating its plan to improve its ability to target “carriers with the highest crash risk.” The FMCSA made the following changes to its carrier prioritization process:

  • Definition of “high risk” – The metric for determining which motor carriers are considered high risk has been adjusted. Under the new definition, carriers are “high risk” if they have not received onsite investigation in the previous twelve months and rank in the 90th percentile in two or more of the following Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category scores: Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hours of Service Compliance, and Vehicle Maintenance.
  • Enforcement of new rules – The FMCSA will work toward incorporating new internal risk management policies and processes in order to allow it to enforce the new “high-risk” definition.
  • Data-based intervention – “On-road data” provided by motor carrier safety management systems will be used to determine when intervention by the FMCSA is necessary.

“The new definition will identify a smaller number of carriers, but this group of carriers will have a higher crash risk than the group of carriers identified under the current high-risk definition,” FMCSA said in a release. “This newly defined high-risk list will be the agency’s investigative priority. It will allow the agency to more promptly conduct investigations of carriers that pose the greatest risk to public safety, rather than placing carriers at high crash risk in a longer queue of investigations.”



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