Several weeks after 10 trade associations asked the Dept. of Transportation to withhold metrics related to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program from public view, another group of 10 organizations has endorsed the request that the Dept. of Transportation remove individual motor carriers’ Safety Measurement System scores from all federal public websites.
“This request is nothing new or novel, nor is a wealth of supporting evidence that SMS methodology is systemically flawed,” the groups said in a Sept. 17 letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The letter notes that DOT’s inspector general warned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that SafeStat – the system SMS replaced – was flawed. But SMS hasn’t fixed those flaws, the groups told Foxx. “From the first publication of SMS methodology in December 2010, the statistical flaws of SMS have been pointed out to the Agency and have been shamelessly and repeatedly ignored in Agency publications.”
The Aug. 22 letter from the initial group of organizations had cited a Government Accountability Office report identifying problems with SMS. The Sept. 17 letter from the additional groups cited several other studies that found problems with using SMS data to predict crashes or describe carriers’ safety performance accurately.
In 2011, FMCSA settled a lawsuit related to SMS data by posting online disclaimers that SMS scores are not safety ratings, but the agency “has played mere lip service to that disclaimer and to its duty under Section 31144 to determine motor carrier safety fitness,” the groups said.
“Instead, the Agency has continued to tout unproven SMS methodology as an alternative standard to be used by the public in selecting carriers,” the Sept. 17 letter stated. “The Agency’s advocacy of SMS has been seized upon by the plaintiffs’ personal injury bar, thereby causing great harm to shippers, brokers and carriers. The harm to those parties results from a rash of lawsuits for ‘negligent selection” of carriers with SMS percentile scores above “alert” levels arbitrarily established by the Agency.”
The organizations signing the Sept. 17 letter to Foxx are Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, Airforwarders Association, California Construction Trucking Association, Auto Haulers Association of America, Air & Expedited Motor Carrier Association, The Expedite Alliance of North America, American Home Furnishings Alliance, Laredo Licensed U.S. Customs Brokers Association and Transportation Loss Prevention & Security Association.