The Chicago trucking accident attorneys of Passen & Powell take a keen interest in the regulations, rules, and policies of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency largely responsible for regulating the trucking industry. So too, naturally, does the American Trucking Association, an organization devoted to representing the industry. Lately, there have been reports of an unusual level of friction between the two.
The ATA is reportedly generally happy with the FMCSA Rules. The group has likewise been pleased with the 2010 updates to those rules, with one exception: the ATA continues to target the agency’s crash accountability methodology and rules.
The ATA has been pressing the FMCSA to make changes to its crash accountability rules for several years. Specifically, the ATA would like to see accountability determinations made before crashes are entered by the agency, and thus used in the 2010 Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) and Safety Measurement System (SMS). The ATA would also like to see specific types of crashes excluded from entry and use in the system, such as:
- documented suicides;
- crashes involving a car driving in the wrong direction;
- crashes where a truck is rear-ended while stopped at a red light; and
- crashes where a truck is struck while legally parked on a roadside.
In other words, certain types of truck accidents not caused by the fault of the truck driver or trucking company. But the 2010 updates to the FMCSA rules again did not include the requested changes. Dave Osiecki, the ATA’s senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs, has thus sent a letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro asking the agency to provide ATA with the proposed timeline for making the necessary changes to the crash accountability system.
The Chicago truck accident attorneys of Passen & Powell are for increased crash accountability. But in this case, the modifications requested by the ATA to agency policy are more than reasonable – they are necessary. The types of crashes identified by the ATA are, without question, not the fault of the individual truck driver or the trucking company that employs him. It is thus fundamentally unfair to include these crashes in the crash accountability data — statistics that are supposed to show how well large commercial motor vehicle carriers and drivers are complying with safety rules.
As Osieki stated, “It’s reasonable and appropriate, in ATA’s view, to suggest that the commercial driver and carrier involved in each of these types of crashes should be presumed to have no accountability in the crash and, therefore, removal of such crashes should be a matter of agency policy.”
Moreover, including these crashes in the safety data and the crash accountability system harms the public. It is to no one’s benefit to have data that misstates the number or distribution of trucking accidents. The government, and the private enforcers of trucking safety – namely civil attorneys such as the truck accident attorneys of Passen & Powell – must have accurate, reliable data in order to serve its intended purpose.
For example, if these accidents continue to be included in the crash accountability data, then the government’s resources may be committed towards the wrong carriers. This would have the effect of leaving the carriers who in fact have the worst records free from appropriate FMCSA scrutiny. We urge the FMSCA to promptly respond to the ATA’s letter, and to make the necessary and appropriate changes to the crash accountability program – for all our sake and safety.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.