FMCSA Makes Updates to High Risk Carrier Definition

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a proposal to change the definition of a “high risk” carrier on Monday, March 7, 2016. “High risk” carriers receive the designation when they meet or exceed specific thresholds within the FMCSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) for two consecutive months. When a carrier is designated as high risk, it must receive an onsite investigation within 12 months, unless they already received an onsite investigation in the previous 24 months.

Currently, carriers are designated as “high risk” under two scenarios:

1. Their Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, or Hours of Service Compliance BASICs are greater than or equal to the 85th percentile and one other BASIC is at or above the “all other” motor carrier threshold for two consecutive months.

2. Any four or more BASICs are at or above the “all other” motor carrier threshold (65th/80th percentiles) for two consecutive months.

Under the FMCSA’s proposed new definition, carriers would be designated as “high risk” if two or more of the following BASICs are at or above the 90th percentile for two straight months: Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hours of Service Compliance, or Vehicle Maintenance. FMCSA asserts that this new definition will identify a smaller number of carriers, but that the group of carriers will have a higher crash risk than those designated under the current standard. As a result, the Agency’s investigative priorities will more closely align with those carriers who pose the greatest risk to public safety. Comments on this revised definition may be filed until May 6, 2016. TIA has frequently encouraged the FMCSA to make the list of “high risk” carriers public so that purchasers of transportation services can make better-informed decisions.

These changes come at a time when the recent long-term transportation bill passed by Congress has required FMCSA to remove from public view all Agency analyses and percentile rankings relating to their Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative. The Agency will be able to use this data internally for intervention and enforcement, but Congress has required academic studies of the data collection methodology and predictive algorithms before the FMCSA can make the data publically available again. This study will likely not be completed for another 18 months.

Additionally, the FMCSA has proposed a new Safety Fitness Determination rule, which would improve and clarify the agency determination process for identifying which motor carriers are safe to operate. Comments on that rulemaking are due on May 23, 2016, following a two-month delay jointly requested by TIA and other industry stakeholders. The TIA Highway Logistics Conference is currently preparing the comments that will be submitted on behalf of the association.