“The war is far from over,” says Tom Sanderson, Chairperson of ASECTT (The Alliance for Safe, Efficient, and Competitive Truck Transportation). “If ASECTT is to make a difference, we must play offense and offer constructive programs which fit our name.“
These are just some of the contents of the progress report that Tom sent to ASECTT members on June 22, 2017. The letter updates the readers on where the group is currently at and where they are heading with their battle for reform.
The report includes its remarks on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program and its safety rating reform proposals and regulatory agendas.
The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) invited concerned groups to present their regulatory reform issues on June 12 and 13, 2017.
The letter shows that ASECTT joined the action on those days with its partnered colleagues. They exhibited a two-minute presentation of their list of proposed measures.
In the report, the group attached a link to the talking points they used in the meeting.
The corporation requested campaign supporters to review these topics and welcomed comments on the agenda. The organization also asked the subscribers at the end of the report to answer a survey.
Readers are requested to respond by indicating whether they support the initiatives or wish to have their ASECTT membership removed.
What is ASECTT?
ASECTT is a 26 USC 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. It aims to ensure that road safety rules are not over-regulated and do not sacrifice carrier efficiency and competition. The corporation is composed of brokers, carriers, shippers, and allied participants in the trucking industry.
These groups are committed to working with FMCSA in enhancing safety.
The organization is chaired by Tom Sanderson — CEO of logistics service provider, Transplace. Its current short term goal is to have the methodology of FMCSA’s CSA Program edited.
What Does the Progress Report Say?
A progress report signed by Tom Sanderson was disseminated to ASECTT’s membership list on June 22. The letter opened with a note from the past mentioning how Washington insiders once labeled them as a “lunatic fringe.”
A turnabout of events came with 62 trade associations joining their stand on FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology being flawed and inaccurate. The organization waits upon a Congress-mandated review of the CSA program by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
The letter mentions that the results of this study will be due shortly.
The report made mention of FMCSA refusing to issue satisfactory-marked safety ratings to carriers. It claimed that the agency utilizes focused audits instead of compliance reviews that are required by regulations. The organization, therefore, went on the offensive when they heard about the new administration asking for regulatory review comments.
They presented their reform points at the meeting on June 12 and 13, albeit only given two minutes to present.
The letter ended with a summary of the contents written in the attached document of talking points and agenda items. It closed with two given options — indicate whether you support the initiatives or wish to have your ASECTT membership dropped.
ASECTT’s Reform Points
ASECTT collaborated with other industry associations in submitting a reform proposal to FMCSA’s MCSAC last June 7, 2017. The contents discussed during the June 12–13 meeting was an echo of the points previously passed.
The document had no problem with the core regulations of FMCSA. However, it sought to edit a set of quasi-rules issued by the agency without prior notice-and-comment rule-making.
Here are the six proposed points listed in the document:
Replacing the Safety Measurement System (SMS) with Bi-Annual Audits
The organizations claimed that the scoring method of FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) cannot predict the safety performance of carriers. The group also believes that SMS failed to provide a complete coverage of the entire carrier population.
FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) data shows that only 12.9 percent of the carrier population have vehicle maintenance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) scores.
The organizations instead recommend the use of desktop audits on a minimum of a bi-annual schedule for every registered carrier. This remote assessment has been affirmed by previous experience to be both accurate and cost-effective.
Replacing the Unified Registration System (URS) with a Simpler System
The document claims that FMCSA failed to offer equal insurance filings and requirements for all carriers. It also noted the URS as having 30 pages of instructions and a registration form that is 20 pages long.
The proposal, instead, recommends a publicly accessible system that is simpler and more comprehensive compared to the current version.
Splitting FMCSA’s Investigative and Adjudicatory Responsibilities
FMCSA’s safety enforcers are currently the only authorities that arbitrate proposed safety ratings. Carriers do not have any assurance that its appeals would receive due process evaluation by a judge on administrative law.
Moving FMCSA’s Adjudicatory and Admin Functions to Surface Transportation Board
The organization claims FMCSA to have a backlog of commercial issues that are not safety related. These unaddressed matters may be processed if referred to a different agency.
Also, the STB is currently handling the administrative procedures and regulatory adjudications of the Federal Railroad. The group proposes a similar structure for the FMCSA to lessen the agency’s workload.
Utilizing APA-Compliant Rule-making Instead of Website Notices and Guidelines
FMCSA should stop using terms such as “guidance,” “interpretations,” or the like for communicating measures that have a substantial legal bearing.
SMS is an example of a quasi-rule with many legal consequences that are not located in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
Seeking Clarity of Federal Preemption Coverage
The petitioners claim that FMCSA regulations are currently uncertain, with states having varying interpretations due to different state laws. Insurers translate this uncertainty as a cause of increased risk and, therefore, charge liability insurance premiums at higher rates.
The organizations believe the solution to be found in a federal regulatory arbiter to establish consistent interpretations of FMCSA guidelines.
The adjudicator helps advance the National Transportation Policy by advocating uniform explanations and clarifications of rules.
The battle for CSA reform is all set to continue. Road safety is an important aspect that every responsible organization in the country is concerned about, and that’s a good thing.
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