As of March 23, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) withdrew its January 21, 2016, notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which proposed a revised methodology for issuance of a safety fitness determination (SFD) for motor carriers.


In February, The Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) joined other industries in asking U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Chao to rescind the Safety Fitness Determination NPRM until FMCSA completes reforms to the Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program/Safety Measurement System (SMS).


Last year, the FMCSA issued a NPRM, “Carrier Safety Fitness Determination.” The current safety fitness rating system ranks carriers as Satisfactory, Conditional or Unsatisfactory based on a comprehensive safety compliance review. The proposal would have radically modified the Safety Fitness rating system in which carriers are evaluated for both the enforcement community and the general public.


The new methodology would have been based on on-road safety data using five of the agency’s seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), an investigation—which would consider all seven BASICs—or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information. The proposed system would have removed all the existing ratings to create only one rating, “Unfit.”


PMAA’s primary concern with the proposal is that the methodology would have utilized flawed CSA/SMS data and scores, which Congress directed the agency to review and reform in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Systems Act (FAST Act) enacted in December 2015. 


While PMAA supports the goal of an easily understandable, rational safety fitness determination system, the new proposal was built on a flawed foundation. FMCSA must complete reforms to the CSA/SMS system before proceeding to a new method of evaluating the safety fitness of carriers.


After reviewing the record, FMCSA has withdrawn the NPRM and canceled other plans to develop a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The agency must receive the Correlation Study from the National Academies of Science, as required by the FAST Act to assess what corrective actions are advisable, and complete additional analysis before determining whether further rulemaking action is necessary to revise the safety fitness determination process.