Report: SafeStat not ready for public

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Before the public can view SafeStat scores, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must make improvements, Department of Transportation auditors reported recently.

On June 19, DOT’s Office of Inspector General released its review of the Motor Carrier Safety Status Measurement System, used by FMCSA to identify high-risk fleets.

In 2004, FMCSA removed from its public websites both the overall SafeStat scores and all SafeStat accident data, calling the move temporary and saying it was necessary to make sure the accident data was accurate, complete and timely.

The OIG review was requested by U.S. Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., former chair of the House Highways, Transit and Pipelines Subcommittee.

Although FMCSA has improved SafeStat, problems still exist with the reporting of crash data to the agency, the report said. While states are reporting more truck crashes, anomalies call into question the completeness of nonfatal crash reporting, the report said.

“We recommended that FMCSA implement a new, more reliable estimate that would allow evaluation of nonfatal crash reporting, both nationally and state by state, before the department makes all SafeStat scores available to the public,” the report said.

FMCSA is working on a new, more accurate national estimate of how many nonfatal crash reports are absent from its database and how many are missing from each state, with a target date of October. OIG recommended SafeStat scores not be available to the public until this step is complete.

In June, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reported SafeStat is better than random selection at identifying high-risk carriers but said a statistical approach would be better. Late-reported crash data, cited as a potential statistical problem by DOT, in fact has little effect on SafeStat’s usefulness, GAO reported.