Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act Correlation Study
Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act Correlation Study
John Van Steenburg
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
28 August 2017
[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 165 (Monday, August 28, 2017)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-18183]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[Docket No. FMCSA-2017-0226]
Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act Correlation Study
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice; request for comments.
SUMMARY: On June 27, 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
published its report titled, ``Improving Motor Carrier Safety
Measurement.'' This report was commissioned by FMCSA consistent with
the requirements of Section 5221 of the Fixing America's Surface
Transportation (FAST) Act. The FAST Act also requires that the Agency
develop an action plan to address any identified deficiencies and
submit it to Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT)
Office of Inspector General (OIG). The purpose of this notice is to
announce a public meeting to discuss the NAS recommendations and to
solicit input to be considered by the Agency in the development and
implementation of the action plan.
DATES: The public meeting will take place on Friday, September 8, 2017,
from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time. A copy of the agenda for the
meeting will be available in advance of the meeting at https://www.regonline.com/FMCSA_Correlation_Study_Action_PlanPublicMeeting. If
all interested participants have had an opportunity to comment, the
meeting may conclude early.
Public Comments: Comments must be received by September 27, 2017.
ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the FMCSA National Training
Center, 1310 N. Courthouse Road, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201-2508.
Those interested in attending this public meeting must register at:
https://www.regonline.com/FMCSA_Correlation_Study_Action_PlanPublicMeeting. Participants have the
option of registering to attend in person, or via webinar.
You may submit comments identified by Docket Number FMCSA-2017-0226
using any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of
Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington,
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. E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information about the public
meeting or for information on facilities or services for individuals
with disabilities or to request special assistance at the meeting,
contact Ms. Sharon Worthy, Director of External Affairs at (202) 366-
2309 or by email at Sharon.Worthy@dot.gov, by September 1, 2017.
For information about the Correlation Study, please contact Ms.
Theresa Rowlett, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Enforcement, FMCSA,
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC
20590, Telephone (202) 360-2924 or by email at Theresa.Rowlett@dot.gov.
If you have questions regarding viewing or submitting material to
the docket, contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.
If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this
notice (FMCSA-2017-0226), 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 mailing
address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your
document so that FMCSA can contact you if there are questions regarding
To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov,
put the docket number, FMCSA-2017-0226, in the keyword box, and click
``Search.'' When the new screen appears, click on the ``Comment Now!''
button and type your comment into the text box on 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.
Viewing Comments and Documents
To view comments, as well as any documents mentioned in this
preamble as being available in the docket, to http://www.regulations.gov. Insert the docket number, FMCSA-2017-0226, in the
keyword box, and click ``Search.'' Next, click the ``Open Docket
Folder'' button and choose the document to review. If you do not have
access to the Internet, you may view the docket by visiting the Docket
Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the 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.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) solicits comments from the
public to better inform its decision-making processes. 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
Section 5221 of the FAST Act, titled ``Correlation Study,''
required FMCSA to commission the National Research Council of the
National Academies to conduct a study of FMCSA's Compliance, Safety,
Accountability (CSA) program and Safety Measurement System (SMS). SMS
is FMCSA's algorithm for identifying patterns of non-compliance and
prioritizing motor carriers for interventions. FMCSA is prohibited from
publishing SMS percentiles and alerts on the SMS Web site for motor
carriers transporting property until the NAS Correlation Study is
complete and all reporting and certification requirements under the
FAST Act are satisfied.
The FAST Act also required FMCSA to submit the results of this
study to both Congress and the DOT OIG. In addition, within 120 days of
the submission of the report to Congress and the OIG, FMCSA must submit
an action plan to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation; and the House of Representatives Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee. The OIG is required to review the action plan
and submit a report to Congress on the responsiveness of the FMCSA's
plan to the NAS report's recommendations.
Under Section 5221 of the FAST Act, the purpose of this study is to
a. The accuracy with which the Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement
Categories (BASICs) used by SMS:
i. Identify high risk carriers.
ii. Predict or are correlated with future crash risk, crash
severity, or other safety indicators for motor carriers, including the
highest risk carriers.
b. The methodology used to calculate BASIC percentiles and identify
carriers for enforcement, including the weights assigned to particular
violations and the tie between crash risk and specific regulatory
violations, with respect to accurately identifying and predicting
future crash risk for motor carriers.
c. The relative value of inspection information and roadside
d. Any data collection gaps or data sufficiency problems that may
exist and the impact of those gaps and problems on the efficacy of the
e. The accuracy of safety data, including the use of crash data
from crashes in which a motor carrier was free from fault.
f. Whether BASIC percentiles for motor carriers of passengers
should be calculated separately from for motor carriers of freight.
g. The differences in the rates at which safety violations are
reported to FMCSA for inclusion in the SMS by various enforcement
authorities, including States, territories, and Federal inspectors.
h. How members of the public use the SMS and what effect making the
SMS information public has had on reducing crashes and eliminating
unsafe motor carriers from the industry.
The FAST Act required the NAS also to consider:
a. Whether the SMS provides comparable precision and confidence,
through SMS alerts and percentiles, for the relative crash risk of
individual large and small motor carriers.
b. Whether alternatives to the SMS would identify high risk
carriers more accurately.
c. The recommendations and findings of the Comptroller General of
the United States and the Inspector General of the Department of
Transportation, and independent review team reports, issued before the
date of the FAST Act.
NAS Report Recommendations and FMCSA Action Plan Overview
On June 27, 2017, NAS published the report titled, ``Improving
Motor Carrier Safety Measurement.'' The report is available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24818/improving-motor-carrier-safety-measurement. A
copy of the report has been placed in the docket referenced at the
beginning of this notice. In preparing the report, NAS collected and
analyzed all the quantitative data available to FMCSA in its databases,
which contain information on the safety of commercial motor carriers
and drivers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and
the Hazardous Materials Regulations. In addition, NAS held three public
meetings to engage stakeholders from the truck and bus industry, safety
advocates, researchers, and other government organizations. The meeting
agendas are included in an appendix to the report.
The NAS report concluded that SMS, in its current form, is
structured in a reasonable way and its method of identifying motor
carriers for alert status is defensible. In addition, NAS agreed that
FMCSA's overall approach, based on crash prevention rather than
prediction, is sound. NAS provided FMCSA with six recommendations to
improve the system.
FMCSA accepts the NAS report's recommendations and outlines below
several high-level proposals to address each recommendation. The
proposals summarized below are intended to allow the public to provide
input into the development of the action plan but do not themselves
constitute the entirety of the action plan. FMCSA is still considering
and evaluating actions to address the recommendations. FMCSA is also
working with the NAS to establish a Standing Committee to oversee and
provide advice relating to the Agency's work addressing these
recommendations. In addition to reviewing and providing advice on the
Agency's technical work, such as the Item Response Theory (IRT)
modeling, NAS will advise on all recommendations, and establish a
process for gathering stakeholder input in the implementation of the
action plan as well.
Recommendation 1--FMCSA should develop the suggested IRT model over
the next 2 years. If it is then demonstrated to perform well in
identifying motor carriers for alerts, FMCSA should use it to replace
SMS in a manner akin to the way SMS replaced SafeStat.
To address this recommendation, FMCSA is securing additional
expertise and resources to develop and test the proposed IRT
statistical model. The testing of an IRT model is consistent with
FMCSA's continuous improvement process of modifying and testing changes
to SMS by focusing on data quality, data collection, and transparency.
FMCSA will evaluate whether the new model performs well using existing
effectiveness testing methods and/or methodologies recommended by the
NAS, and based on that evaluation will determine the next steps in
using that model.
FMCSA is seeking comments on the implementation of an IRT model and
its application to the SMS as well as the process for development and
testing of the model.
Recommendation 2--FMCSA should continue to collaborate with states
and other agencies to improve the quality of the Motor Carrier
Management Information System (MCMIS) data in support of SMS, focusing
on carrier exposure and crash data. The current exposure data are
missing with high frequency, and data that are collected are likely of
unsatisfactory quality. To improve the exposure data collected involves
not only collecting higher-quality Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) data,
but also collecting this information by state and by month. This will
enable SMS to (partially) accommodate existing heterogeneity in the
environments where carriers travel. Crash data are also missing too
often. Also, there is information available from police reports
currently not represented on MCMIS that could be helpful in
understanding the contributing factors in a crash. Such information
could help to validate the assumptions linking violations to crash
frequency. To address these issues, FMCSA should support the states in
collecting more complete crash data, and in universal adoption of the
Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC), as well as developing and
supplying the code needed to automatically extract the data needed for
the MCMIS crash file.
FMCSA Comments on VMT
Regarding exposure data, the Agency agrees that more VMT data from
motor carriers would reduce the need for FMCSA to use substitute values
and would improve the quality of the data in SMS. FMCSA is concerned
that access to monthly and by-State VMT is not currently feasible.
Currently, FMCSA rules require carriers to provide updated VMT data
only every two years. FMCSA previously considered using other sources
of VMT data such as the International Registration Plan data. However,
FMCSA does not currently have access to that data. And even if the
Agency had access to IRP data, that would not provide a complete data
set, as IRP carriers are not required to report information on vehicles
with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 26,000 pounds.
FMCSA seeks information, through this notice, on potential sources
of improved VMT data. Additionally, FMCSA requests input from industry
and other stakeholders about other available sources for this data and
the costs and benefits of voluntary submission of the data.
FMCSA expects to consider the effect of monthly, voluntarily-
submitted, State-by-State VMT data from motor carriers, and the impact
on the system if this information were provided by only a portion of
the regulated community.
FMCSA Comments on Crash Data
In accordance with Section 5306 of the FAST Act, FMCSA established
a Federal Advisory Committee to review Post-Accident Reports for tow-
away crashes involving FMCSA-regulated commercial motor vehicles. That
committee was charged with recommending changes to improve the quality
and consistency of Police Accident Reports (PARs) data. More than half
of the committee members represented States or State law enforcement
officials, with the remainder representing industry, labor, safety
advocates, and other interested parties. The FAST Act directed the
working group to review existing State PARs to recommend best practices
for the collection of PARs data by State and local law enforcement
agencies. The Post Accident Review Advisory Committee recommended that
all States use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's
MMUCC \i\ and that FMCSA modify its data systems to receive all MMUCC
data from the States. In January 2017, FMCSA's and NHTSA's senior
leadership agreed to establish a workgroup to carry out the Committee's
FMCSA recognizes that implementation of this recommendation will
take additional resources for the States for training and information
technology system changes. We are partnering with NHTSA to encourage
States to participate in a USDOT national crash repository (that uses
the MMUCC guidance as a framework). In addition, FMCSA will be
examining the quality of the EDT data and comparing it to what we
receive in MCMIS.
As a result, FMCSA specifically asks for information on issues that
should be considered FMCSA determines how to best integrate MMUCC data.
Recommendation 3--FMCSA should investigate ways of collecting data
that will likely benefit the recommended methodology for safety
assessment. This includes data on carrier characteristics--including
information on driver turnover rate, type of cargo, method and level of
compensation, and better information on exposure.
The Agency agrees that additional information about carrier
operations might improve the Agency's analysis and identification of
non-compliant motor carriers. To confirm this, FMCSA will use the IRT
model and simulate the impacts and value of driver turnover rates, type
of cargo, method and level of compensation, and exposure in identifying
unsafe motor carriers before proceeding with an information collection.
In addition, FMCSA would conduct a cost benefit analysis to determine
how much it would cost the industry to provide the Agency with this
additional information. Through this notice, FMCSA is specifically
seeking input on these and other data fields to be considered and
information on the costs associated with submitting this information.
Recommendation 4--FMCSA should structure a user-friendly version of
the MCMIS data file used as input to SMS without any personally
identifiable information to facilitate its use by external parties,
such as researchers, and by carriers. In addition, FMCSA should make
user-friendly computer code used to compute SMS elements available to
individuals in accordance with reproducibility and transparency
FMCSA agrees that there could be benefits from making MCMIS data
available to researchers and carriers. Through this Federal Register
notice, FMCSA seeks input on how the MCMIS data would be used by
researchers and others to determine the best method(s) for providing
the data file.
The Agency is considering developing the programming, screen shots,
and preview capacity so that changes from one month to another are
explained to motor carriers to help carriers understand the
implications of violations and crashes on their SMS data. Input on the
information that would be helpful in reviewing SMS data is requested
through this notice.
Recommendation 5--FMCSA should undertake a study to better
understand the statistical operating characteristics of the percentile
ranks to support decisions regarding the usability of public scores.
Like NAS, FMCSA has been unable to quantify the impacts to motor
carriers of publicly displaying the SMS percentiles. The Agency has
only anecdotal information about the business impacts of the public
percentiles on the SMS Web site. Historically, insurance companies and
shippers have been reluctant to share data on how safety data is used
to determine rates. And, while the Agency has been contacted by
companies advising that they lost business because of SMS, these claims
have not been validated or assimilated into a usable analysis.
Through this notice, FMCSA seeks data from motor carriers,
insurance companies, and shippers regarding the impacts of the public
display of SMS percentiles and alerts on businesses. This information
will be used to identify next steps for this recommendation.
Recommendation 6--Given that there are good reasons for both an
absolute and a relative metric on safety performance, FMCSA should
decide on the carriers that receive SMS alerts using both the SMS
percentile ranks and the SMS measures, and the percentile ranks should
be computed both conditionally within safety event groups and over all
The Agency has heard from motor carriers with increased measures or
percentiles due to an increase in vehicles or clean inspections.
Analysis of the number of carriers that received higher measures and
percentiles without a violation or crash indicates this happens to a
very small number of carriers. However, FMCSA agrees that the
methodology should be revised so that a safety event that is not a
violation or a crash is not the sole reason for an increased measure or
In addition, FMCSA anticipates investigating the use of a hybrid
measure that combines relative and absolute metrics as part of its
development of the IRT model. FMCSA seeks comment from stakeholders on
this issue, how it could be implemented, and when such changes would be
Issued under the authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.87 on: August
John Van Steenburg,
Assistant Administrator/Chief Safety Officer.
[FR Doc. 2017-18183 Filed 8-25-17; 8:45 am]
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