Feds move to overhaul truck, bus safety determinations

The Obama administration is moving to overhaul the way it determines the fitness of truck and bus companies to operate on U.S. roadways. 

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a proposal on Friday to "update FMCSA’s safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine a motor carrier’s overall safety fitness on a monthly basis." 

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony FoxxUS-Mexico air transport deal cleared for takeoff DC Metro lags on federal safety actions Republican lawmakers sound the alarm over Cuba flights MORE said the changes will improve the ability of federal regulators to identify bad actors that are endangering drivers and passengers on U.S. roadways. 

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“Ensuring that motor carriers are operating safely on our nation’s roadways is one of our highest priorities,” Foxx said in a statement. “Using all available information  to achieve more timely assessments will allow us to better identify unsafe companies and get them off the road.” 

The motor carrier safety administration's proposal calls for ditching a rating system that contains three categories — "satisfactory," "conditional" and "unsatisfactory" — in favor of a new system that would just label truck and bus companies as "fit" or "unfit." The existing three-tier motor carrier safety determination system has been in place since 1982. 

The proposal would also increase the use of data from the motor carrier safety administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that is used to measure truck and bus companies' compliance with federal regulations.  

Acting FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling said Friday the proposed changes to the process of determining the fitness to operate of truck and bus company would increase the number of motor carrier operators that can be tested in a month. 

“This update to our methodology will help the agency focus on carriers with a higher crash risk,” he said. “Carriers that we identify as unfit to operate will be removed from our roadways until they improve.”

The motor carrier safety administration said it will be able to test the compliance of 75,000 truck and bus companies under the new methodology for determining safety compliance. The agency said it can only test 15,000 motor carrier per month under the system is currently in place.