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  • Henry Seaton

FMCSA changes definition of high-risk carrier

Responding to a recommendation by a Federal Aviation Administration peer review team, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is changing the definition of high-risk carrier used in prioritizing investigations to focus on carriers it believes present the highest risk. Although FMCSA announced the change as final, it is inviting comments through May 6.

Under the previous policy, which had been in place since FMCSA launched its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program in late 2010, carriers were required to have on-site investigations if they met or exceeded specific Safety Measurement System (SMS) Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) Intervention Thresholds. Passenger and non-passenger carriers were evaluated using the same BASICs thresholds, but the timeframe for passenger carriers to receive a mandatory on-site investigation was much tighter.

The prior policy mandated an on-site investigation under specified timeframes if:

  • The Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, or HOS Compliance BASICs were greater than or equal to the 85th percentile and one other BASIC was at or above the “all other” motor carrier threshold; or

  • Any four or more BASICs were at or above the “all other” motor carrier threshold (65th/80th percentiles)

Under the new definition, FMCSA will consider a carrier to be high-risk if two or more of the following BASICs are at or above the 90th percentile: Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, HOS Compliance or Vehicle Maintenance.

Passenger carriers will be flagged as high-risk if those conditions occur in any given month and the carrier hasn’t received an on-site investigation in the past 12 months. Non-passenger carriers will be flagged only if those conditions persist for two consecutive months and there hasn’t been an on-site investigation in 18 months. Previously, a carrier would be targeted if the conditions persisted for two consecutive months and there had not been an investigation in 24 months.

FMCSA said the new definition will flag a smaller number of carriers, but the group will have a higher crash risk than the group of carriers identified under the current high-risk definition. The new definition will allow the agency to more promptly conduct investigations of carriers that pose the greatest risk to public safety, it said.

To address carriers with poor safety performance that will no longer be considered high-risk, FMCSA said it will monitor additional carriers with significant crash risk using “dynamic risk management tools” recommended by the FAA team.

For a copy of FMCSA's notice in the Federal Register, click here.

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