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Coalition in U.S. House tells FMCSA to shelve new CSA-based carrier scoring rule until CSA reforms enacted

The Safety Fitness Determination rule would allow the agency to rely more heavily on roadside inspection data and violation data to determine carriers' safety fitness. Some carrier groups, however, argue the rule's issuance violates provisions of the 2015 FAST Act, which requires reforms to the CSA program.

The Safety Fitness Determination rule would allow the agency to rely more heavily on roadside inspection data and violation data to determine carriers’ safety fitness. Some carrier groups, however, argue the rule’s issuance violates provisions of the 2015 FAST Act, which requires reforms to the CSA program.

A group of 36 members in the U.S. House have sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s top dog, Acting Administrator Scott Darling, urging him and his agency to halt work on its new Safety Fitness Determination carrier rating system pending the FAST Act-required reforms to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

The representatives’ letter, sent to Darling late Wednesday, is not the first sent by lawmakers regarding the agency’s January-published Safety Fitness Determination rule. It also comes in a long line of letters or statements from industry groups raising concerns over the agency’s procession with the SFD rule, despite Congressional direction in the December-passed FAST Act. The SFD rule proposes, in short, to change the agency’s three-tier rating system (Satisfactory, Conditional, Unsatisfactory) to a two-tier system: Fit or Unfit. The rule would also more heavily tie that safety fitness determination to data derived from roadside inspections and violations, like CSA’s Safety Measurement System rankings.

FMCSA put the cart before the horse with SFD proposal, carriers again at risk of unfair ratings

FMCSA put the cart before the horse with SFD proposal, carriers again at risk of unfair ratings

Now that FMCSA finally published its Carrier Safety Fitness Determination rule proposal last month, the question remains: Is CSA data accurate enough to assign a ...

Like letters past, the 36 lawmakers undersigned in Wednesday’s letter argue that the SFD rule, even if not in direct violation of FAST Act stipulations, is in violation of the spirit of the law and the required overhaul of the CSA program.

“While you are in the process of implementing the FAST Act reforms, it is inconceivable that you would propose using the same data and analysis Congress has agreed is faulty in a new safety fitness determination methodology,” the lawmakers write, adding that the CSA reforms should be “fully completed” before the new carrier rating methodology is formed.

FMCSA, however, has said it’s well within its legal boundaries to produce the Safety Fitness rule, despite the required CSA reforms in the FAST Act. In a media briefing held last month, FMCSA’s head of compliance Joe DeLorenzo said the rule does not make use of the most questionable parts of CSA — the percentile rankings and alerts, which were pulled from public view by the FAST Act — and that the rule would expand FMCSA’s ability to target high risk carriers.

Carrier groups dispute FMCSA defense of Safety Fitness rule, call foul on agency's stats

Carrier groups dispute FMCSA defense of Safety Fitness rule, call foul on agency’s stats

The key point of contention between FMCSA and the carrier groups is whether the rule’s issuance violates the December-enacted FAST Act highway bill. The April ...

Trucking groups and lawmakers have consistently disagreed, with several major trucking organizations filing a series of letters with FMCSA and Congress hoping to stop the SFD rulemaking.

Last month, a group of 33 members of the U.S. House, several of which are also co-signed in this week’s letter to Darling, sent a letter to House leadership, asking them to take up the matter in upcoming legislation.

Click here to see the letter sent to Darling on Wednesday, and see the links below for coverage of other articles pertaining to the SFD dust-up:

The Safety Fitness Determination rule would allow the agency to rely more heavily on roadside inspection data and violation data to determine carriers' safety fitness. Some carrier groups, however, argue the rule's issuance violates provisions of the 2015 FAST Act, which requires reforms to the CSA program.

FMCSA dismisses concerns about Safety Fitness rule and CSA reform, says rule will expand ability to target unsafe carriers

Industry groups have argued the agency violated provisions of the FAST Act by moving forward with the SFD rule. The agency, however, argues otherwise, saying ...

Following pressure from trucking industry, lawmakers push back on FMCSA’s Safety Fitness rule

Following pressure from trucking industry, lawmakers push back on FMCSA’s Safety Fitness rule

A group of 33 members of the U.S. House last week sent a letter to senior members of the House’s Appropriations Committee asking them to ...

FMCSA's Safety Fitness Determination proposal under fire again, coalition asks Congress to halt rule

FMCSA’s Safety Fitness Determination proposal under fire again, coalition asks Congress to halt rule

A group of 35 transportation-related organizations sent a letter earlier this month to lawmakers urging them to stop the DOT's Safety Fitness Determination proposed rulemaking ...

Trucking coalition reiterates: FMCSA's issuance of Safety Fitness rule violates federal law

Trucking coalition reiterates: FMCSA’s issuance of Safety Fitness rule violates federal law

The ad hoc coalition of motor carrier groups is urging Congress to act on what it sees is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s violation ...

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James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.