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FMCSA to start pilot program for carriers to dispute crash fault in CSA

Multiple semi trucks after accident

Carriers will soon be able to dispute preventable crash rulings for certain crash types to have the ruling potentially overturned to “not preventable.” An overturned ruling would result in the crash being removed from a carrier’s CSA score.

Beginning Aug. 1, trucking companies will be able to dispute certain crashes that were ruled preventable and could have those crashes removed from their Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores. The new DOT pilot program could pave the way to have crashes reviewed, deemed non-preventable and removed from carriers’ CSA ratings.

One of the trucking industry’s biggest issues with the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System has been the use of all crashes, regardless of the preventability determination, against carriers in their safety ratings.

The Crash Preventability Demonstration Program will allow carriers to send requests for data reviews (RDRs) to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to evaluate the preventability of certain crashes. RDRs can be made through the existing DataQs data correction system.

If a preventable crash ruling is overturned to “Not Preventable,” law enforcement will be able to see a carriers’ Crash Indicator BASIC percentile both with and without the crash, along with a note indicating FMCSA reviewed the crash and determined it was non-preventable.

Crashes deemed to be non-preventable during the pilot program will still appear in the CSA SMS, but won’t count against the carrier. The agency says it believes it is important to display all crashes, regardless of the preventability determination, to provide “the most complete information regarding a motor carrier’s safety performance record.”

The agency will begin accepting requests on certain types of crashes beginning Aug. 1 for crashes that occurred on or after June 1, 2017. FMCSA will keep the demonstration program open for a minimum of two years.

FMCSA planning program to add long-wanted 'crash accountability' to CSA, at least temporarily

FMCSA planning program to add long-wanted ‘crash accountability’ to CSA, at least temporarily

The lack of crash accountability in CSA -- namely, using crashes that were in no way the fault of carriers against them in their CSA ...

FMCSA says in a Federal Register notice to be published Thursday, July 27, that crashes challenged through the system would be found “Not Preventable” when documentation submitted with the RDR established that the crash was not preventable. Through the program, FMCSA will accept the following eight crash types for review:

  • When a truck was struck by a driver under the influence or a related offense
  • When a truck was struck by a motorist driving in the wrong direction
  • When a truck was hit in the rear
  • When a truck was hit while legally stopped or parked
  • When a pedestrian or car drives in front of a truck in an attempt to commit suicide by truck
  • When a truck sustains disabling damage after hitting an animal in the road
  • When a crash is caused by an infrastructure failure or falling trees, rocks or other debris
  • When a truck is hit by cargo or equipment from another vehicle
Carriers chart

When carriers submit a request for a crash review, FMCSA will review the crash and the documentation provided by the carrier and make a determination as to whether or not the crash was preventable.

When reviewing crashes, the agency will use the preventability standard found in federal regulations that states: “If a driver, who exercises normal judgment and foresight could have foreseen the possibility of the accident that in fact occurred, and avoided it by taking steps within his or her control which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap, the accident was preventable.”

When submitting a data review request, FMCSA is not requiring any specific documentation to prove the crash was not preventable, however, carriers can submit dashcam video of the crash, police reports, insurance reports or any other supporting evidence to help the agency decide the preventability of the crash.

When reviewing RDRs, FMCSA can make three determinations: “Preventable,” “Not preventable” or “Undecided.” In the case of an “Undecided” ruling, the agency says the documentation submitted wouldn’t allow for a conclusive decision. A carrier’s SMS rating would include a note that reads, “FMCSA reviewed this crash and could not make a preventability determination based on the evidence provided.”

FMCSA says when a crash is determined to be “Not Preventable,” it will list on the DataQs site the crash report number, U.S. DOT number, motor carrier name, crash date, crash state and crash type. For these crashes, the agency will accept for 30 days documentation or data from the public to refute the finding. New documents and/or data will be reviewed, and a final determination will be made within 60 days, FMCSA says.

FMCSA floats proposal to up CSA crash threshold to three crashes

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In addition to the two-year program intended to test the feasibility of removing certain non-preventable crashes from carriers’ CSA scores, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety ...


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Matt Cole is an Associate Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at