Thursday, February 7, 2013

US Road Haulage Representatives Say Truck Operators Unfairly Treated by FMCSA

Accidents Where Fault Can Be Attributed Should Not Count Against Innocent Truckers
Shipping News Feature

US – WORLDWIDE – There has been growing dissatisfaction in many Western countries in the past few years about the way the statistics of road traffic accidents often result in blameless parties being penalised simply by having their identities mentioned in the reports. The classic example of this have been numerous cases where drivers have seen insurance premiums rise due to their innocent involvement in an incident and now US truck drivers representatives, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has reiterated its call for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to immediately establish a process to remove from motor carriers’ records crashes where it was plainly evident that the road haulage operator was not to blame.

Currently, carriers’ scores in FMCSA’s safety monitoring system, Compliance, Safety, Accountability, are based on all carrier-involved crashes, including those that the companies’ drivers did not cause and could not reasonably have prevented. ATA pointed to several examples of such crashes that have occurred over the past year. These include the murder suspect driver of a stolen car crossing a grassy median and killing himself in a 120mph crash with a tractor trailer seriously injuring the trucker, and two incidents involving fuel tankers which burst into flames after being hit, one by a suspected drunken driver the other by a stolen SUV. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves pointed out:

“It is clearly inappropriate for FMCSA to use these types of crashes to prioritize trucking companies for future government intervention, especially when responsibility for the crash is so obvious. Including these types of crashes in the calculation of carriers’ CSA scores, paints an inappropriate picture for shippers and others that these companies are somehow unsafe.”

Earlier this week, FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee heard details from a crash reconstruction expert who contended that FMCSA could not determine fault in many instances based solely on information from police accident reports and whilst Graves admitted that was sometimes the case he ridiculed the idea that in cases similar to those outlined above no blame could be determined.

Over a year ago, FMCSA shelved plans to make just these sorts of determinations in favour of further study. ATA subsequently called on FMCSA to establish an interim process to address crashes where it is “plainly evident” that the crash should not count against the trucking company. Graves concluded:

“FMCSA has been evaluating this issue for years and is not due to complete additional research until this summer. We don’t need more research to conclude that it is inappropriate to use crashes like these to paint the involved trucking companies and professional drivers as unsafe.”

Photo: The Gasoline truck burns after being struck by a stolen SUV. Courtesy of Zeke Vlashi