July 7, 2017
Transport Topics --- The top attorney for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the agency is moving forward with plans in support of recommendations by a panel of elite academics for a new approach to measuring motor carrier safety scores.
The study, fashioned by a 12-member panel of academics chosen by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, concluded that FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s controversial Safety Measurement System to identify motor carriers at high risk for future crashes is “conceptually sound” but several features need improvement.
While the panel’s report was complimentary of the agency for many of its ideas and efforts, it recommended that over the next two years, regulators develop a more “statistically principled approach” based on an “item response theory” — that is, a more detailed data-oriented approach that digs deeper and measures the performance of individual trucks and buses, not just at the motor carrier level.
The national academy study was mandated by the 2015 Fast Act and was funded by FMCSA. The mandate requires that the agency complete an action plan within 120 days.
FMCSA conducted several briefing phone calls on the national academy study with Senate and House transportation staff members and trucking industry stakeholders, who generally supported the academy recommendations. The agency told stakeholders they would be soliciting their input as officials work on the action plan and as they work over the next two years to implement the IRT concept. The agency also plans to work closely with the national academy in creating the new approach.
The academies’ panel was charged with analyzing the ability of FMCSA’s SMS to discriminate between low- and high-risk carriers, assess the public usage of SMS, review the data and methodology used to calculate the measures and provide advice on additional data collection and safety assessment methodologies.
In March, FMCSA withdrew a January 2016 proposed motor carrier safety fitness rule, saying it was awaiting the results of the study before proceeding with a subsequent proposal.