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Crash Weighting Analysis

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Crash Weighting Analysis

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
January 23, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 15 (Friday, January 23, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3719-3723]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-01144]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0177]


Crash Weighting Analysis

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice; request for public comment.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces a study to inform decision making about the 
feasibility of using a motor carrier's role in crashes as an indicator 
of future crash risk in response to stakeholder interest

[[Page 3720]]

and as part of the Agency's commitment to continuous improvement. This 
study assesses (1) whether Police Accident Reports (PARs) provide 
sufficient, consistent, and reliable information to support crash 
weighting determinations; (2) whether a crash weighting determination 
process would offer an even stronger predictor of crash risk than 
overall crash involvement and how crash weighting would be implemented 
in the Agency's Safety Measurement System (SMS); and (3) how FMCSA 
might manage a process for making crash weighting determinations, 
including the acceptance of public input. This notice advises the 
public of the availability of the study report for review and comment, 
along with a request for feedback on what steps the Agency should take 
regarding crash and PAR data quality.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 23, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2014-0177 using any of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room 
W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 
5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
    Each submission must include the Agency name and the docket number 
for this notice. Note that DOT posts all comments received without 
change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
included in a comment. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit Room W12-140 
on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The on-line Federal document management system 
is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. If you want 
acknowledgment that we received your comments, please include a self-
addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgement 
page that appears after submitting comments on-line.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this study, 
contact Ms. Dee Williams, Chief, Compliance Division, Federal Motor 
Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590, Telephone 202-366-1812 or by email: dee.williams@dot.gov. If 
you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, 
contact Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    FMCSA encourages you to participate by submitting comments and 
related materials.

Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this 
notice (FMCSA-2014-0177), indicate the specific section of this 
document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each 
suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material 
online or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of 
these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a mailing 
address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your 
document so the Agency can contact you if it has questions regarding 
your submission.
    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
put the docket number, ``FMCSA-2014-0177'' in the ``Keyword'' box, and 
click ``Search.'' When the new screen appears, click on ``Comment 
Now!'' button and type your comment into the text box in the following 
screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual 
or on behalf of a third party and then submit. If you submit your 
comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no 
larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic 
filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they 
reached the facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard 
or envelope.
    FMCSA will consider all comments and material received during the 
comment period and may change this notice based on your comments.

Viewing Comments and Documents

    To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble 
as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
insert the docket number, ``FMCSA-2014-0177'' in the ``Keyword'' box 
and click ``Search.'' Next, click ``Open Docket Folder'' button and 
choose the document listed to review. If you do not have access to the 
Internet, you may view the docket online by visiting the Docket 
Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the DOT West 
Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

II. Background

    The FMCSA is dedicated to reducing crashes, injuries, and 
fatalities involving large trucks and buses. The Compliance, Safety, 
Accountability (CSA) program is FMCSA's enforcement model that allows 
the Agency and State Partners to address motor carrier safety problems 
before crashes occur. The foundation of CSA is the SMS, which 
quantifies the on-road safety performance of motor carriers to 
prioritize enforcement resources.
    The SMS uses recordable crash records involving commercial motor 
vehicles (CMVs) that are submitted by the States through the Agency's 
Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) to assess motor 
carriers' crash risk and prioritize them for safety interventions using 
the SMS Crash Indicator. To define recordable crash, the Agency relies 
on the definition of ``accident'' found in 49 CFR 390.5, which means 
(1) except as provided in paragraph (2) of the definition, an 
occurrence involving a CMV operating on a highway in interstate or 
intrastate commerce that results in: (i) A fatality; (ii) bodily injury 
to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives 
medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or (iii) one or 
more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the 
accident, requiring the motor vehicle(s) to be transported away from 
the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle. (2) The term accident 
does not include: (i) An occurrence involving only boarding and 
alighting from a stationary motor vehicle; or (ii) an occurrence 
involving only the loading or unloading of cargo.
    A CMV is also defined at 49 CFR 390.5, as any self-propelled or 
towed

[[Page 3721]]

motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport 
passengers or property when the vehicle: (1) Has a gross vehicle weight 
rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or 
gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, 
whichever is greater; or (2) is designed or used to transport more than 
eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or (3) is 
designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the 
driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or 
(4) is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of 
Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in 
a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the 
Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.
    Because the crash data reported to FMCSA by the States does not 
specify a motor carrier's role in the crash, the Crash Indicator uses 
all of a motor carrier's recordable crashes, and is not available 
publicly. The Crash Indicator does weight crashes based on crash 
severity, however, with more weight given to fatality and injury 
crashes than to those that meet the definition of an accident only 
because one or more vehicles was towed from the scene.
    Research on this issue conducted by FMCSA, as well as independent 
organizations, has demonstrated that crash involvement, regardless of 
role in the crash, is a strong indicator of future crash risk. In fact, 
the Crash Indicator is one of the strongest predictors of crashes 
within the SMS. FMCSA's recently completed SMS Effectiveness Test (ET) 
shows that motor carriers above the Intervention Threshold in the Crash 
Indicator have a future crash rate that is 85 percent higher than the 
national average (https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/CSMS_Effectiveness_Test_Final_Report.pdf). This document and related 
reports are available in the docket of this notice.
    Since FMCSA has implemented the SMS, some stakeholders have 
expressed concern that the Crash Indicator may not identify the highest 
risk motor carriers for intervention because it looks at all crashes 
without regard to the role of the carrier in the crash. In response to 
stakeholder interest and as part of the Agency's commitment to 
continuous improvement, FMCSA has completed a study on the feasibility 
of using a motor carrier's role in crashes as an indicator of future 
crash risk. The analysis focused only on the three broad questions 
below addressing the procedural issues surrounding a crash weighting 
program and the feasibility of implementing such a program; it did not 
focus on any other implications of the program. The three analysis 
questions are separate analyses designed to inform Agency decisions.
     Do PARs provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable 
information to support crash weighting determinations?
     Would a crash weighting determination process offer an 
even stronger predictor of crash risk than overall crash involvement, 
and how would crash weighting be implemented in the SMS?
     Depending upon the analysis results for the questions 
above, how might FMCSA manage the process for making crash weighting 
determinations, including public input to the process?
    The Agency's research plan was posted on the Agency's Web site at 
http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/CrashWeightingResearchPlan_7-2012.pdf on July 23, 2012. The resulting report is titled ``Crash 
Weighting Analysis'' and is in the docket associated with this notice. 
The draft research was peer reviewed, and the peer review 
recommendations are also in the docket.

III. Summary of Analysis

    The discussion below summarizes the results of the three questions 
addressed in this analysis. Each question is addressed independently. 
The FMCSA seeks comments on the analyses' approaches and results.
    Because FMCSA does not receive PARs from the States, the Agency 
created a database for analysis using 10,892 PARs obtained from two 
national datasets: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National 
Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS).
    Depending upon State procedures, most PARs do not indicate the 
reason for a crash; therefore, the FMCSA employed a review process 
based on the process developed for FMCSA's Large Truck Crash Causation 
Study (LTCCS), particularly the methodology for assigning the 
``critical event'' and the ``critical reason'' for the critical event. 
This methodology focuses on pre-crash events, such as vehicle and 
driver actions/movements, driver condition, and the environment at the 
crash scene, to identify the circumstances leading to the crash.\1\ The 
critical event is the event that immediately led to the crash and that 
put the vehicle or vehicles on a course that made the crash 
unavoidable. The critical reason is the immediate reason for the 
critical event or the failure leading to the critical event, for 
example, if a CMV driver drives too fast for the roadway type.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ For details on the LTCCS methodology, go to http://www.ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/ltccs/default.asp?page=method.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FMCSA reviewed the PARs and determined the critical event and 
critical reason to identify a motor carrier's role in a crash and 
assign a crash weighting for analysis purposes. In order to derive the 
most robust analysis of each study question, the Agency used several 
crash data sources, including PARs, the NMVCCS, and the MCMIS.

Question 1: Do PARs provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable 
information to support crash weighting determinations?

    One of the key questions for this study is whether FMCSA could make 
reliable crash weighting determinations based solely on PARs, since the 
PAR is often perceived as the most common and timely record of a crash. 
This analysis (1) reviewed PAR sufficiency for determining a motor 
carrier's role in a crash; (2) compared a sample of PARs with other 
data sets to assess the reliability of the information on the PARs; and 
(3) assessed the feasibility of identifying (coding) the motor 
carrier's role for particular types of crash events without reviewing 
the PAR.
    In this study, FMCSA reviewed and coded three years of crash data, 
a total of 10,892 PARs from the FARS and NMVCCS, to identify the 
critical reason for the crash. Ninety-one percent of the PARs met the 
criteria to be reviewed for a critical reason determination (at least 
one vehicle involved in the crash was a CMV, the CMV was regulated by 
FMCSA, and the crash met the criteria for a recordable crash). Nine 
percent could not be reviewed because it could not be determined from 
the PAR that all of these criteria were met. Of the 91 percent of the 
PARs that could be reviewed, 3 percent could not be coded for a 
critical reason due to incomplete, inconsistent, or insufficient 
information.
    The PARs were then reviewed to determine how reliably (or 
accurately) they depicted the circumstances of the crash. Specific 
fields on the PARs were compared to the information in related fields 
in the FARS, which provides more robust information than the PAR alone. 
The FMCSA did not attempt to infer these data fields from the narrative 
sections of the PAR.
    The following table provides an overview of the match rate between 
PARs and FARS. The Agency was unable, in this type of analysis, to 
establish which record, the PAR or

[[Page 3722]]

FARS, was more accurate, but simply identified the fact that the two 
data sources were not in agreement.

 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Data field                  PAR/FARS  match          PAR/FARS  non-match        Missing PAR data
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Driver Contributing Factors......  12.6%....................  5.3%....................  82.0%
First Harmful Event..............  46.9.....................  5.6.....................  47.5
Traffic-Way Flow.................  52.4.....................  14.9....................  32.8
Weather Conditions...............  95.7.....................  3.2.....................  1.1
Roadway Surface Conditions.......  96.7.....................  2.3.....................  1.0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FMCSA also compared the critical reasons assigned for this 
study with those assigned in matching records from the NMVCCS, which 
employs a similar critical reason determination process. The analysis 
found that the majority of the critical reason determinations, about 90 
percent, matched between these two data sources.
    The Agency also assessed the practicality of coding crashes for two 
types of crash events using information available in the MCMIS as an 
approach to crash weighting that would not require reviewing an actual 
PAR: (1) Single-vehicle crashes deemed to be ``attributable'' to the 
motor carrier; and (2) both single- and multiple-vehicle crashes with 
associated post-crash inspection records indicating a pre-crash out-of-
service (OOS) condition on the CMV involved. Single-vehicle 
attributable crashes are those for which the MCMIS event code 
description did not indicate a collision with a pedestrian; a motor 
vehicle in transport; an animal; work zone maintenance equipment; or 
other/unknown movable object or ``other.'' It was hypothesized that the 
critical reason for these two types of crashes would be assigned to the 
CMV if the PARs were reviewed. Analysis results suggest that the coding 
of single-vehicle crashes without a PAR review is feasible, but is 
dependent upon accurate data as to the number of vehicles involved. For 
crashes with a pre-crash OOS condition, PAR reviewers did not assign 
the critical reason to the CMV in a majority of cases as they did not 
consider the post-crash inspection results, but the PAR alone.

Question 2: Would a crash weighting determination process offer an even 
stronger predictor of crash risk than overall crash involvement, and 
how would crash weighting be implemented in the SMS?

    This portion of the crash weighting analysis assumed PAR 
sufficiency and reliability and looked at whether a crash weighting 
methodology in the SMS Crash Indicator BASIC would provide a sharper 
view of the highest risk motor carriers by identifying motor carriers 
with higher future crash rates. Crash weights were derived based on (1) 
the critical reason assignments for the 10,892 PARs that were reviewed; 
and (2) on 671 single-vehicle attributable crashes identified in the 
MCMIS.
    The Agency employed various statistical and analytical approaches 
to assess crash weighting benefits. The analysis used crash data from 
2009-2010 to define Crash Indicator percentiles, then tracked the 
future (January 2011 to June 2012) crash rate of motor carriers above 
the Intervention Threshold.
    The analysis applied two approaches for modifying crash weights and 
analyzed the effect of each on the crash-predictive strength of the 
current Crash Indicator. The first applied higher severity weights for 
crashes where the critical reason was assigned to the CMV and for 
single-vehicle attributable crashes and applied lower weights for 
crashes that were reviewed but not assigned to the CMV. The second 
approach simply removed crashes that were reviewed but not assigned to 
the CMV. Both of these approaches were applied to the same two sets of 
crashes: All crashes and fatal crashes only.
    Results showed that modifying the Crash Indicator by changing the 
crash weights based on a motor carrier's role in a crash does not 
appear to improve its ability to predict future crash rates when all 
crashes are considered. Modifying the Crash Indicator to include crash 
weighting improves its ability to predict future crash rates when only 
fatal crashes are considered. When the crash weighting methodology was 
applied, the carriers that were identified for intervention had future 
crash rates that are 1.8 percent to 5.0 percent higher, when removing 
crashes not assigned to the CMV during the PAR review. Fatal crashes 
are, however, less than 3 percent of all crashes in the MCMIS.

Question 3: How might FMCSA manage the process for making crash 
weighting determinations, including public input to the process?

    The objective of this part of the analysis was to identify how a 
crash weighting process might be structured and, based on this process, 
estimate the resources required for both start-up and ongoing 
implementation.
    Implementing a crash weighting effort on a national scale requires 
a method for uniformly acquiring the final PARs for all or a subset of 
crashes; a process and system for uniform analysis; and a method for 
receiving and analyzing public input.
    It must be noted that FMCSA does not currently receive PARs from 
the States and that they may be difficult to obtain, due to the 
requirements for secure data collection and storage, which creates a 
significant, albeit unknown, cost to the Agency. The annual costs for 
reviewing and coding PARs, including the acceptance of public input, 
will vary depending upon the number of PARs reviewed, the number of 
appeals, and the crash weighting determination process established by 
the Agency. This analysis estimates potential costs of between $3.9 
million and $11.2 million annually.
    The analysis also provided some insight into the amount of time it 
would take to make these determinations. The data provided some 
indication that the timeframe for the entire crash weighting 
determination process, from the submission of the crash report through 
the determination process, could be so significant as to make the value 
of the determination questionable for the purposes of use in the SMS, 
given the 24-month analysis period used by the SMS.

IV. Request for Comments

    The Agency completed the study to inform decision making concerning 
the feasibility of using a motor carrier's role in crashes as an 
indicator of future crash risk. Based on the information that is 
provided, what steps should the Agency

[[Page 3723]]

take regarding crash and PAR data quality? Are there other data, 
research, or related materials FMCSA should take into consideration?

    Dated: January 16, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-01144 Filed 1-21-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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