FMCSA proposes new BASIC: Beyond Compliance Thinkstock

FMCSA proposes new BASIC: Beyond Compliance

Congress requires new ‘voluntary’ safety program for trucking

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a new safety scoring category to reward trucking companies for safety programs which voluntarily exceed regulatory requirements.

The Beyond Compliance BASIC would appear when a motor carrier is approved and participating in the program, explains a notice to be published Wednesday.

“Those companies with this BASIC would distinguish themselves from other companies when the public display of SMS is reinstated in the future,” says the Federal Register notice. A pre-publication copy is available here.

The proposal comes as a result of a mandate in the recently passed the FAST Act. Congress has required FMCSA to implement a “Beyond Compliance” program within 18 months of the highway bill’s enactment. FMCSA solicited public comment on the matter a year ago, and the agency determined that establishing the new BASIC by June 2017 would be feasible under the mandate. The alternative, making broader modifications to the SMS methodology, would be “more complicated and time consuming,” and potentially impact the study of the SMS methodology that has also been required by Congress, according to the notice.

So FMCSA is specifically seeking comments on this proposal, and the pros and cons of the Beyond Compliance BASIC.

The FAST Act prescribes the eligibility for the Beyond Compliance program. As a result, this program is available to a motor carrier that:

  1. installs advanced safety equipment;
  2. uses enhanced driver fitness measures;
  3. adopts fleet safety management tools, technologies, and programs; or
  4. satisfies other standards determined appropriate by the Administrator.

FMCSA proposes that technologies that are not currently mandatory, such as electronic logging devices (ELDs), would be eligible until they are required, the notice adds.

A motor carrier would be eligible to apply for the Beyond Compliance program if the following criteria were met:

  1. The motor carrier did not have a Conditional or Unsatisfactory safety rating;
  2. The motor carrier did not have any BASICs over intervention thresholds at the time of the application;
  3. The proposed technology or program must be applied to the company’s population of vehicles or drivers to adequately achieve the performance goal and improve safety;
  4. The motor carrier must be an interstate carrier; and
  5. The motor carrier must have graduated from the new entrant monitoring period.

In public comments submitted last year, FMCSA notes that many trucking interests, regulatory enforcement and safety groups supported such a plan so long as current minimum requirements were not compromised. The Owners Operators and Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA), however, commented  that “…this proposal is largely being driven by technology firms whose primary interest is financial, and by large carriers who have already adopted technology but have not realized real improvement to their safety scores.”

The notice goes on to spell out the process for technologies and safety programs to petition for consideration in the Beyond Compliance program, and for a third party to be contracted  to provide monitoring support.

The costs of the work performed by this third party would be paid by the motor carrier, the notice states. Assuming a carrier with a small number of trucks is in the program for five years, FMCSA estimates that the fee would be approximately $750. The agency expects that the costs would be “tiered” so that larger programs requiring more monitoring would incur a higher cost.

After the notice is published, comments will be accepted for 60 days on regulations.gov, docket number FMCSA–2015–0124.

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