In 2015, Congress required FMCSA to establish a Beyond Compliance program designed to incentivize motor carriers to adopt innovative safety tools, technologies, and programs through improved CSA scores. Since then, FMCSA has been in data collection mode, issuing several requests for comments and conducting research on how a program like this might work. Research is now complete, and FMCSA is working to finalize the report. As long-time proponents of the program, STC is now looking for clues about what might be included in a Beyond Compliance program. We believe some great clues can be found in a 2019 study conducted by the National Surface Transportation Center for Excellence called the Effective Strategies to Improve Safety study.

The final report included nine case studies of carriers of different sizes and segments, a detailed listing of the strategies of each carrier’s safety programs, and measurements of their crash rates before and after their implementation. In all nine examples, carriers experienced improved reportable crash rates, ranging from 19.5% to 75.6%. The safety strategies were divided into four categories: vehicle; people; environment; and management culture.

Below are a sampling of strategies STC thinks could ultimately be included in a Beyond Compliance program:

Vehicle People Environment Management Culture
Speed Limiters Pre-employment Screening Program Plan routes for 45mph average Driver scorecards
Video-based Monitoring Systems Finishing programs for new drivers Monitoring driving time in real-time Sharing key carrier-wide crash and incident data
Stability control systems Regular in-person safety meetings Visible safety pledge signage in terminals Accountability for safety in all departments

Of course, developing a Beyond Compliance program that can identify, measure and track carrier adoption of these strategies will be complicated and resource-intensive. Not to mention that rewarding carriers for a job well done hasn’t traditionally been a part of FMCSA’s DNA, which has typically favored sticks, not carrots. If FMCSA ultimately stands up a program, STC would expect FMCSA to leverage third parties with deep industry connections to work with carriers participating in the program to develop voluntary self-reporting tools to aid program implementation.

This is one program STC believes will raise the bar in safety. It may take a herculean effort by FMCSA in an area outside of their traditional sweet spot, but crash numbers aren’t going down, so initiating novel ideas that leverage industry expertise and experience is a road worth traveling.