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FMCSA withdraws Safety Fitness rule meant to revamp carrier rating system following industry pushback

FMCSA chart

The industry’s chief concern with the Safety Fitness Determination proposal was its reliance on CSA’s SMS BASIC rankings.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this week will withdraw its January 2016 proposal to rework the way it rates carriers and determines their fitness to operate.

The Safety Fitness Determination rule, which has been in the works for a decade, will be withdrawn Thursday, according to an advanced notice published Wednesday in the Federal Register by FMCSA. The withdrawal comes a few weeks after industry groups asked new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to kill the rule.

The SFD was issued as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last January. The agency says it had planned to simply issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this year to rework the rule and solicit industry feedback on the changes.

However, due to widespread concern over the rule’s reliance on the Compliance Safety Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System BASIC ratings — which themselves have also been pulled from public view due to concerns about their accuracy in judging carriers’ safety — FMCSA says it decided to withdraw the SFD proposal all together and start anew.

Congress in late 2015 required FMCSA to pull the SMS BASIC carrier rankings from public view, given their myriad of flaws and what’s seen as a limited ability to accurately score carriers. Congress also required the agency to work with the National Academies of Science to reform the program to better achieve its goal of targeting unsafe operators.

The agency says it will wait to reissue a Safety Fitness Determination proposal until the CSA SMS revamp has been implemented.

The proposal, if made final, would have done away with the Conditional, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory rating system, in favor of a simple Fit and Unfit designation. The rule would have also allowed the agency to put carriers out of service based on CSA BASIC ratings alone, rather than an intervention and on-site compliance review.

Read more about the proposal and the backlash against it at the links below:

FMCSA proposes rule for new carrier safety rating program, enforcement measures

The proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule would replace the current federal rating system of "Satisfactory, Conditional and Unsatisfactory” for motor carriers and replace it with ...

Final highway bill: CSA revamp in, younger truckers and carrier ‘hiring standards’ out

The FAST Act highway bill brings with it a bevy of big and small regulatory changes for the trucking industry. Here's what did and didn't ...

Trucking stakeholders urge FMCSA to hold off on Safety Fitness rule until CSA is reworked

Many trucking industry stakeholders weighed in during the FMCSA's Safety Fitness Determination proposed rule comment period, urging the agency to hold off on the rulemaking ...

Trucking groups urge new DOT Secretary to scrap new carrier rating system, citing lingering CSA faults

Prominent trucking groups have united in urging Elaine Chao, the new Secretary of Transportation, to order the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to rescind a ...


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James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at