The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published its progress report, which has shown a major ramp-up in safety audits of new carriers, as well as progress made on the amount of time it takes for local agencies to submit crash and inspection information to the agency database.
New entrant safety audits climbed over three-fold to 25,316 in 2004 compared with 7,205 in 2003. The safety audits were conducted as part of a recent agency requirement enacted in January 1, 2003 that new carriers would be subject to an 18-month on-site safety monitoring period.
“It appears the agency has finally got their new entrant program running at full steam,” Jim York, manager of the Risk Engineering Transportation Team for Zurich Service Corp., told Fleet Owner.
But despite the year-over-year improvement in the number of audits, the FMCSA is still looking to make the audits more effective. Charles A Horan III, the director of the FMCSA Office of Enforcement and Compliance said at an annual National Private Truck Council (NPTC) safety conference meeting that only a few carriers were deemed “unfit.”
“The failure rate was so low that it raised the need to tighten up the audit,” said Bob Inderbitzen, NPTC director of safety & compliance. He added that the purpose of the audit is to educate the carrier on the safety rules rather than be an enforcement measure. “You can’t believe that every new inexperienced entrant is going to pass the initial audit.
“However, the ramp-up in the number of audits is good because it says you can’t just enter the motor carrier industry without having some scrutiny in safety,” Inderbitzen continued. “[The agency is] taking this as a training opportunity to help the new entrant cover their bases in the safety arena.”
The progress report also highlighted the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) truck fatality data. In 2004 the number of large truck fatalities increased 4.2% to 5,196, over the 4,986 in 2003. Both the large truck fatality rate and injury rate per 100 million heavy-truck miles traveled for 2004 is still unavailable. The fatality rate was 2.3 in 2003, while the injury rate was 56.6.
The timeliness of FMCSA crash and inspection data also made some significant progress. The average time it took to upload a crash to FMCSA was 84 days in 2004 compared with 136 days in 2003. The average time for inspection data was 15 days in 2004 and 26 days in 2003.
“It’s important if you think of the number of individuals that are involved in a crash report,” said Zurich Service Corp.’s York. “Local officers don’t use electronic capture data like in roadside inspection to file an accident report. The local officer would have to file a paper report, conduct an investigation and then get it approved by the state. We can’t reasonably expect 14 days until they make big improvements in the process.”
To see the full report go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov.