Small carrier interests loomed large Tuesday at the first of two public FMCSA listening sessions scheduled for this month and intended to gather input from carriers and other industry stakeholders for a potential “beyond compliance” carrier rewards program.
More concerns and questions were raised than praise given for such a program at Tuesday’s meeting, with several owner-operators and small fleets offering comments and few large carriers or their interest groups giving feedback.
FMCSA held the session to seek input from carriers on three questions: (1) What voluntary safety technology or programs would be appropriate to reward, (2) what incentives could encourage carriers to adopt such technology or programs and (3) how the agency could verify implementation of such programs and verify their effectiveness.
The program, as outlined in the FAST Act highway bill, should give carriers some sort of safety credit, such as better CSA scores or reduced inspection instances, as a reward for voluntarily investing in safety technology or programs.
Several commenters voiced concern over rewarding big carriers with deep pockets for investing in technology that could be both intrusive to drivers and yield little in the way of reduction of crashes. Many commenters also said safety technology, while not to be dismissed, shouldn’t replace proper driver training as the best way to improve highway safety.
Commenters also expressed concerns about FMCSA using the program as a means to implement more safety mandates or dilute the CSA scores of those carriers who don’t invest in voluntary over-compliance.
For full coverage of the listening session and more on what commenters told FMCSA, see CCJ sister site Overdrive’s coverage at this link.