Crash Weighting Analysis
Crash Weighting Analysis
T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
12 July 2016
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 133 (Tuesday, July 12, 2016)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-16427]
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; response to public comments.
SUMMARY: On January 23, 2015, FMCSA announced the results of the
Agency's study on the feasibility of using a motor carrier's role in
crashes in the assessment of the company's safety. This study assessed
(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.
Based on the feedback received in response to the January 23, 2015,
Federal Register notice, FMCSA conducted additional analysis to improve
the effectiveness of the Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety
Improvement Category (BASIC). In addition, the Agency will develop and
implement a demonstration program to determine the efficacy of a
program to conduct preventability determinations on certain types of
crashes that generally are less complex.
ADDRESSES: 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
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information contact Mr. Catterson
Oh, Compliance Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, Telephone 202-366-
2247 or by email: Catterson.Oh@dot.gov. If you have questions on
viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket
Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is FMCSA's
enforcement model that allows the Agency and its State partners to
identify and address motor carrier safety problems before crashes
occur. The Agency's SMS quantifies the on-road safety performance of
motor carriers to prioritize enforcement resources. FMCSA first
announced the implementation of the SMS in the Federal Register on
April 9, 2010 (75 FR 18256) (Docket No. FMCSA-2004-18898). Violations
are sorted into BASICs, which include a Crash Indicator BASIC.
Since its implementation in 2010, the SMS has used recordable crash
records involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that are submitted
by the States through the Agency's Motor Carrier Management Information
System, in addition to compliance and safety performance in other
BASICs, to prioritize carriers for safety interventions. The Agency
uses the definition of ``accident'' in 49 CFR 390.5, which means 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
requiring the motor vehicle(s) to be transported away from the scene by
a tow truck or other motor vehicle. The term accident does not include
an occurrence involving only boarding and alighting from a stationary
motor vehicle; or an occurrence involving only the loading or unloading
The crash data reported to FMCSA by the States does not specify a
motor carrier's role in the crash or whether the crash was preventable.
The Crash Indicator BASIC weights crashes based on crash severity, with
more weight given to fatality and injury crashes than those that
resulted in a vehicle being towed from the scene with no injuries or
fatalities. While the public SMS Web site provides information on the
recordable crashes of motor carriers, the percentile created by the
system is not and has never been publicly available. The Crash
Indicator BASIC percentiles are available only to motor carriers who
log in to view their own data, as well as to Agency and law enforcement
In addition, Section 5223 of the Fixing America's Surface
Transportation, Pubic Law 114-94 (FAST) Act prohibits the Agency from
making available to the general public information regarding crashes in
which a determination is made that the motor carrier or the commercial
motor vehicle driver is not at fault.
Research on the issue of crash preventability 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. FMCSA's recently completed SMS Effectiveness Test
shows that, as a group, motor carriers with high percentiles in the
Crash Indicator BASIC have crash rates that are 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.
Stakeholders have expressed concern that the Crash Indicator BASIC
may not identify the highest risk motor carriers for intervention
because it includes all crashes without regard to the preventability of
the crash. In addition, some industry representatives have advised that
while the Crash Indicator BASIC percentile is not publicly available,
some customers are requiring motor carriers to disclose this
information before committing to a contract.
In an attempt to identify a methodology and process for conducting
preventability reviews, FMCSA 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 questions were
separately designed and analyzed to inform Agency decisions.
1. Do PARs provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information
to support crash weighting determinations?
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?
3. 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 on
July 23, 2012, at http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/CrashWeightingResearchPlan_7-2012.pdf. 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.
II. Summary of Comments
FMCSA received 54 docket submissions in response to the January 23,
2015 (80 FR 3719) notice. The commenters represented motor carriers,
drivers, industry associations, safety advocates, and State enforcement
partners. The comments focused on: (1) The impacts of the SMS
information, (2) methodology changes needed in SMS, and (3) the
preventability determination process.
A. Impacts of SMS Information
There was a majority opinion from the commenters that the
establishment and use of a Crash Indicator BASIC percentile without
consideration of crash preventability has been detrimental to motor
carriers. Even though this percentile is not publicly available--it is
only available to the Agency, law enforcement, and motor carriers who
log into the FMCSA's Portal to view their own data--commenters
expressed concern that the percentile is inaccurate, unfair, and
negatively impacts their businesses. Even though the Crash Indicator
BASIC percentiles are not publicly available, the American Moving and
Storage Association (AMSA) and the Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA)
advised that shippers are requiring motor carriers to show their
percentiles before contracting with them. Industry representatives
indicated that the percentiles are inaccurate because non-preventable
crashes are included and, therefore, the percentiles portray motor
carriers as unsafe even when their drivers or vehicles did not cause a
Safety advocates, including Road Safe America, Truck Safety
Coalition, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates),
supported keeping all crashes in the SMS system. These groups advised
that using all crashes best predicts future crash risk and that the
public should have access to all of the crash data.
FMCSA Response: As FMCSA has indicated previously, the SMS is a
prioritization tool for the Agency and its law enforcement partners.
The Agency's Crash Indicator BASIC percentiles have never been in the
public view because FMCSA recognized the Crash Indicator BASIC did not
factor in preventability.
As discussed in this notice, as well as a separate notice published
today in the Federal Register, FMCSA is proposing a demonstration
program in which certain types of non-preventable crashes would be
removed from the SMS.
FMCSA's SMS Effectiveness Test, discussed above, supports the
Agency's continued use of the Crash Indicator BASIC for its own
resource prioritization during the analysis period. The Agency notes
that crashes will not affect a motor carrier's safety rating unless the
carrier's role in the crashes is considered first.
B. Methodology Changes
Tim Watson recommended that the Agency change the recordable crash
definition to eliminate tow-aways. Mr. Watson contended that the
Agency's focus should be on fatal and injury crashes and that, often,
the damage requiring a tow is not severe. It is his opinion that
focusing on the fatal and injury crashes would be more manageable and
cost-effective for FMCSA.
FMCSA Response: Revising the definition of recordable crash would
be a change to the regulatory text that is beyond the scope of this
notice. However, FMCSA conducted additional analysis to determine how
removing tow-away crashes from the Crash Indicator BASIC would impact
its effectiveness in identifying high risk
carriers. A report including this analysis titled ``Crash Indicator
BASIC Scenario Analysis'' has been added to this docket. This report
suggests that removing tow-away crashes from the Crash Indicator BASIC
would not improve the effectiveness of this BASIC and would
significantly reduce the Agency's ability to identify and intervene
with high-risk carriers. Removing tow-away crashes would result in a
lower overall crash rate (5.99 crashes per 100 power units [PUs]) than
the current Crash Indicator BASIC (6.34 crashes per 100 PUs), which
suggests that it is not as effective at identifying high crash risk
carriers. The number of crashes for this scenario is much lower than
the number of crashes for the current Crash Indicator BASIC (10,854 vs.
15,638 crashes). Changes in size demographics show that under this
scenario the smallest group of carriers, those with 1-5 power units,
totals 286 compared to 1,379 carriers over Intervention Threshold in
the current Crash Indicator BASIC. This is a 79 percent reduction in
the number of carriers over the Intervention Threshold. Therefore, the
Agency would have fewer opportunities to intervene through warning
letters or other contact to potentially reduce crashes.
Weighting of Fatal and Injury Crashes
The American Bus Association (ABA) and National School
Transportation Association (NSTA) presented a different perspective.
These groups contended that the extra weighting of fatal and injury
crashes has greater, and inappropriate, impacts on the passenger
carrier sectors of the industry. Because of the volume of passengers,
there is rarely a crash involving a bus that does not result in at
least one injury. As a result, extra weighting on these crashes would
automatically raise the Crash Indicator BASIC percentiles for passenger
FMCSA Response: FMCSA completed additional analysis in the Crash
Indicator BASIC Scenario Analysis on the impacts of removing or
altering the weighting for fatal and injury crashes for all motor
carriers. The result of this change would be an overall crash rate
(6.13 crashes per 100 power units) for the group of carriers over the
intervention threshold that is lower than the crash rate for the group
of carriers over the intervention threshold in the current Crash
Indicator BASIC (6.34 crashes per 100 power units), which suggests that
it is not as effective at identifying high crash risk carriers.
Separate Safety Event Groups for Passenger and Property Carriers
The passenger carrier industry also suggested that FMCSA should
establish separate safety event groups for passenger and property
carriers. The ABA, NSTA, and FirstGroup America indicated that this
change would result in a more balanced comparison of crashes.
FMCSA Response: FMCSA previously considered this suggestion in the
development of SMS and determined that it was not a viable option
because the population of passenger carriers is too small and the range
of company sizes, based on power units, is too great to establish
reasonable safety event groups. Grouping this small population
separately would result in artificially high percentiles for some
carriers. However, as part of the correlation study required by Section
5221 of the FAST Act, this issue will be studied further by the
National Academy of Sciences and any recommendations will be addressed
upon completion of that study.
Normalize Based on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)
ABA and NSTA recommended that FMCSA normalize the number of crashes
using VMT to adjust the percentiles for the exposure of large carriers.
It was presented that such a change would distinguish between carriers
in high traffic areas and those that are not. These commenters believed
that this change in the method of calculation would result in more
accurate percentiles for large carriers.
FMCSA notes that VMT is already factored into the calculation of
the Crash Indicator BASIC percentile. Currently, to normalize the Crash
Indicator calculation, the Crash Indicator BASIC measure is calculated
by dividing the sum of the time/severity weight for all applicable
crashes by the Average Power Units (PU) multiplied by the Utilization
Factor. The Utilization Factor is based on industry segment
(combination or straight) and VMT, as noted in the following tables.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN12JY16.000
As a result, FMCSA is not considering any additional changes to how VMT
is used with in the Crash Indicator. However, on June 29, 2015, the
Agency published a Federal Register Notice titled, ``Future
Enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS),'' in which the
Agency proposed increasing the maximum VMT used in the Utilization
Factor to more accurately reflect the operations of high-utilization
carriers. This proposed change would not impact the methodology
described above. A preview of this proposed change, will be announced
in a future Federal Register notice.
Additionally, FMCSA aligned its VMT data requirements with the
Unified Registration System (URS). Previously, the SMS only used VMT
data from a carrier's registration form when the VMT-associated
calendar year was within 24 months of the current year. This
improvement enables the SMS to use a carrier's VMT data regardless of
VMT-associated calendar year.
C. Minimum Number of Crashes
While not submitted as a comment, the Agency also considered
increasing the minimum number of crashes required in a 24 month period
from two to three, or five, like the other SMS BASICs, before the
crashes will be included in the SMS calculation.
As analyzed in the Crash Indicator BASIC Scenario Analysis, the
overall crash rate for the group of carriers over the intervention
threshold using a minimum of three crashes is about the same as the
crash rate for the group of carriers over the intervention threshold in
the current Crash Indicator BASIC (6.33 vs. 6.34 crashes per 100 Power
units). This suggests that using a minimum of three crashes would
continue to identify a group of carriers with high crash rates.
However, this change in data sufficiency provides the Agency with a
high level of confidence. The number of crashes covered under this
scenario is only slightly lower than the number of crashes for the
current Crash Indicator BASIC (14,838 vs. 15,638 crashes).
However, when the minimum number of crashes is raised to five, the
overall crash rate for the group of carriers over the intervention
threshold is lower than the crash rate for the group of carriers over
the intervention threshold in the current Crash Indicator BASIC (6.23
vs. 6.34 crashes per 100 PUs), which suggests that raising the minimum
number of crashes to five would reduce the effectiveness of the Crash
Indicator BASIC in identifying high crash risk carriers. The number of
crashes covered under this scenario is lower than the number of crashes
for the current Crash Indicator BASIC (13,337 vs. 15,638 crashes).
Based on this additional analysis, FMCSA is proposing to change the
minimum number of crashes from two to three before a percentile is
calculated in the Crash Indicator BASIC. This change is being added to
the list of proposed enhancements announced in docket FMCSA-2015-0149,
``Future Enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS)''
published in the Federal Register on June 29, 2015. The Agency will
propose this change and announce a preview of this change in a future
Federal Register notice.
D. Preventability Determination Process
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) provided a list of certain
types of non-preventable crashes and suggested that FMCSA establish a
process by which documents could be submitted on these crashes and they
could be removed from the motor carriers' record. These crashes
included when the CMV is struck by a motorist who:
Was found responsible by law enforcement for the crash;
Was the sole party cited;
Was driving under the influence;
Crossed the centerline or median;
Was driving the wrong way;
Struck the truck in the rear; or
Struck the truck while legally stopped.
Additionally, ATA recommended that FMCSA consider a crash non-
preventable when an individual commits suicide or vehicles are
incapacitated by animals.
There were many comments that indicated that PARs, as currently
completed and submitted to FMCSA, are not adequate for completing a
preventability determination. KSS Trucking noted, ``I must comment on
the PAR accuracy in this situation. After reading the report and
interviews I have noted some discrepancies. From something as simple as
my license plate number . . . to something as extensive as my
interview, there are differences in what was reported and what was
recorded.'' Also, Advocates agreed with the Agency that ``PARS cannot
be relied on to reach dependable determinations as to crash
causation.'' Several commenters, including the ATA, National Waste and
Recycling Association, and MTA, recommended that FMCSA require uniform
PARs. The Oregon Department of Transportation recommended using PARs,
Department of Motor Vehicle crash reports, and State motor carrier
crash reports to determine preventability. Also, numerous commenters
suggested using the Agency's existing Request for Data Review (RDR)
process through the DataQs system for these requests.
NM Transfer Company, Inc. and Vigillo LLC recommended that FMCSA
require States to make preventability determinations with the funding
they are provided through the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc. added that it is
their opinion that police are taught to find fault. AMSA and ATA
recommended that FMCSA tell the States not to upload the crash if the
CMV or driver was not at fault. The Institute for Makers of Explosives
suggested that all of the crashes be reviewed using the process
currently in place for applicants for Hazardous Materials Safety
There were differing opinions on if and how the public could be
involved in the preventability determination process. Advocates and the
Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) indicated that
adjudications hearings are needed to protect the interests of all
persons involved. Advocates also noted that the Agency did not propose
any deterrents for filing fraudulently and excessively. OOIDA noted
that, ``When the government seeks to determine whether a[n] individual
or company is at fault for causing bodily injuries or property damage,
it must provide the accused a right to a hearing before a neutral fact-
finder; the ability to offer evidence and witnesses; and the
opportunity to challenge evidence and witnesses against them. Under our
country's systems of legal fairness and due process, FMCSA may not
unilaterally determine fault, notify the public of that determination,
and punish the motor carrier by damaging its reputation. This is a
problem with both FMCSA's current and proposed system of dealing with
crashes. If there was a legal proceeding related to an accident where
there was a finding of fault or admission, FMCSA may rely upon the
determination of fault in that proceeding. That would be the only
reliable source of information about crash fault to FMCSA.''
Regarding the estimated costs for a preventability determination
process, the National Tank Truck Carriers indicated ``this would be
money well spent if it served the over-riding purpose of identifying
unsafe driving behavior.'' However, several commenters, including
Advocates, indicated that this would be millions of dollars ``that
would not lead to any improvement in data quality.''
FMCSA Response: The Agency considered the list of crash scenarios
recommended by ATA and agrees to consider whether certain of these
scenarios are most often non-preventable. As a result, the Agency is
developing a demonstration program and a process for submitting
documentation about these crashes through the DataQs program, similar
to the process by which individuals may submit documentation of
adjudicated citations. It will then evaluate the data to determine if
the hypothesis offered by ATA--that certain types of crashes are non-
preventable--is proven correct, and, if so, whether changes should be
made to the Agency's programs. A separate Federal Register notice
seeking comments and input on a process to make preventability
determinations on some specific types of crashes is available elsewhere
in today's Federal Register and is also in docket FMCSA-2014-0177.
Issued under the authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.87 on: July 5,
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
[FR Doc. 2016-16427 Filed 7-11-16; 8:45 am]
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