Some carriers view compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations as the primary path to reducing or eliminating crashes. While enforcing minimum compliance can be an effective safety strategy it’s simply not enough as evidenced by consistently rising DOT recordable crash rates. Since these rules were written (in some cases 50 years ago) our collective understanding of CMV safety has accelerated and innovative programs and technologies have emerged to fill the gap. Sadly, industry adoption rates are slow as carriers focus on the demanding marketplace and the imperative of bringing goods to market.
To accelerate adoption rates, in 2015 Congress included section 5222 in the FAST Act requiring FMCSA to establish a program — Beyond Compliance — to provide motor carriers “credit” on their Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores for adopting tools, technologies, and programs that exceed minimum regulatory compliance. Since, FMCSA has published several notices requesting input on which tools, technologies, and programs should be included and how CSA should reflect adoption of them, but nothing new since 2016.
In the U.S. DOT’s recent update to its National Roadway Safety Strategy, it notably included two technology-centric initiatives FMCSA is working on that STC has been supportive of for some time, including implementing technology settlement agreements that would allow motor carriers that are subject to civil penalties for safety violations to instead use those funds to invest in vehicle safety technologies, and to update existing FMCSA regulations that address the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles to harness technology for improved safety.
While we are pleased to see the Agency is committed to making progress in this area, in our view this was a missed opportunity to put the Beyond Compliance Program out in front. These two approaches outlined in the NRSS address penalties and regulatory changes, but do not offer the proactive, incentive-based options to motor carriers that were envisioned by Congress 8 years ago in the FAST Act. The time is now for FMCSA to move out on the Beyond Compliance Program, we need to change the paradigm on safety to move beyond compliance and enforcement