TranzAct Industry News

GAO Releases Report Outlining Self-Reporting Safety Benefits

The GAO issued a report entitled: “Establishing System for Self-Reporting Equipment Problems Appears Feasible, but Safety Benefits Questionable and Costs Unknown.” Based on a FAST Act requirement that asked the GAO to examine the cost and feasibility of establishing a system for carriers or drivers to self-report vehicles equipment problems to FMCSA. Essentially, it would create a system where if motor carriers and drivers self-report problems within a certain time period, the violation would be excluded from the carrier’s relative safety rating.    


Establishing a system that would provide incentives for trucking companies to self-report equipment problems may not necessarily yield safety benefits. Most stakeholders GAO interviewed—including selected carriers and drivers—thought a self-reporting system would be unlikely to produce safety benefits, stating that it would not incentivize quicker repairs. If repairs are not made more quickly, there would be no positive impact on safety. Three drivers, however, thought a self-reporting system could yield some safety benefits if it incentivized drivers to do more thorough inspections of their vehicles. Officials from industry groups and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) noted that a self-reporting system could negatively impact safety, such as by encouraging distracted driving if drivers report equipment problems on their cell phones while driving. Moreover, estimating the potential safety impacts of such a system requires information that is not currently available, such as how equipment problems that would be permitted to be self-reported are related to crashes.


FMCSA has the statutory and regulatory authority to establish a system for self-reporting equipment problems, and technology exists to create it, but its costs are unknown. Also, establishing such a system could pose challenges for FMCSA, carriers, and drivers. For example, developing a new system could delay efforts FMCSA has under way to improve its information technology, and carriers or drivers may have difficulty selecting their specific equipment problem from the more than 300 potential vehicle maintenance violations. Further, without information on key design features of a self-reporting system, such as whether reporting would be through a telephone hotline or a web-application, it is not possible to estimate costs with any reasonable degree of confidence. FMCSA developed a rough estimate that a self-reporting system would cost between $5 and $10 million to establish and operate for the first year.

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