The Federal Motor Carrier Administration announced on March 23 that it is scrapping its proposed rule on a revised methodology for issuing safety fitness determinations for motor carriers. The agency had issued its SFD notice of proposed rulemaking back in January of last year .
However, the agency pointed out that it must receive a correlation study from the National Academies of Science, mandated by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act highway bill. And that must happen before FMCSA determines “whether further rulemaking action is necessary to revise the safety fitness determination process.” That report is due to be completed in June.
“If FMCSA determines changes to the safety fitness determination process are still necessary and advisable in the future, a new rulemaking would be initiated that will incorporate any appropriate recommendations from the National Academies of Science and the comments received through this rulemaking,” the agency stated in its announcement.
The proposed methodology would have determined when a motor carrier is not fit to operate trucks based on the carrier's on-road safety data; an investigation; or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.
In the NPRM, the agency called for eliminating the current three ratings of “satisfactory,” “conditional” and “unsatisfactory” and replacing them with the single rating of “unfit.”
In February, a large coalition of trucking industry groups wrote to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to argue that the safety-fitness determination proposal should take a back seat to FMCSA fixing its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.
The signatories to that stakeholder letter stated that their major concern with the SFD proposal is that it would use a methodology built on “flawed Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program/Safety Measurement System (SMS) data and scores, which Congress directed the agency to review and reform just months earlier in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Systems Act (FAST Act) enacted in December of 2015.”
In announcing it will drop the SFD proposal— for now, anyway— FMCSA said it was doing so based on “comments received in response to the NPRM and the February 2017 correspondence to Secretary Chao.”