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Understanding the FMCSA's new safety-fitness regulation

Nearly 10 years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began the regulatory process tied to implementation of a specific part of the agency's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. Regulatory actions are often notoriously delayed, so it comes as little surprise that the Safety Fitness Determination element of the CSA has yet to be implemented. However, it seems that this important part of the CSA may soon be affecting commercial drivers nationwide.

The FMCSA has not yet released many details about how the determination will be structured and enforced. However, it seems that the agency is poised to launch a process that will grant carriers with an absolute safety and fitness score. This score will be used much like the current CSA safety measurement system is. It will identify which carriers should be made targets for safety intervention and will compare the safety of one carrier with others.

The primary difference between the old regulations and the new one is that carriers will be scored in accordance with their individual performance, as opposed to the current method of ranking carriers according to safety-related percentiles in comparison with other carriers. In essence, the difference between these two regulations will be at least somewhat relative.

It has yet to be determined how this new regulation will aid public safety. One could certainly guess that focusing on individual performance will make intervention actions easier to identify and enforce. However, the public ultimately desires safer carrier operations in general, which this new regulation may or may not help to foster.

Source: Overdrive, "What owner-operators can expect from FMCSA's Safety Fitness rule," Feb. 17, 2015

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