Sometimes you put a tremendous amount of work into a project only to see it come to nothing. That’s how some of the members of the National Academy of Sciences must feel after a safety standard they spent years developing was thrown out in the trash.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided that a statistical model that was developed by NAS researchers turned out to be too complicated and decided to keep an older one that was simpler with some improvements.
The Safety Measurement System was developed starting in 2017 and has been adopted by some state truck safety enforcement agencies as well as initially by the motor carrier safety wing of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The new standard is intended to create a safety focus on violations severe enough to result in an out-of-service order for a truck. FMCSA also intends to focus more on recent violations when choosing carriers for roadside inspections, saying that this would allow the agency to focus its resources on carriers posing a greater safety risk.
FMCSA determined that an advanced statistical model called the Item Response Theory (IRT), which was recommended earlier by NAS, is “overly complex” and has proposed withdrawing it for use in regulating trucking safety.
Robin Hutcheson, the agency’s administrator, said that because “safety is FMCSA’s core mission, the proposed changes are part of the agency’s continued commitment to enhancing the fairness, accuracy and clarity of our prioritization system.”
FMCSA said that assigning severity weights to violations in SMS on a scale of 1 to 10 under the old system “has been criticized as overly subjective” while simplifying the severity weights identifies carriers with higher crash rates.