Depending on which federal official is speaking, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking a serious look at possibly changing current fleet safety rating system – or it is not doing so.
Truckers have long expressed their unhappiness with the current Satisfactory, Conditional and Unsatisfactory ratings they can be assigned by FMCSA following safety inspections and examination of their operational practices.
A big complaint arises from the Conditional rating, which can be corrected by a follow-up inspection conducted by FMCSA after the trucker has made the required improvements. The problem is that the agency either fails to follow up or takes seemingly forever to do so, according to truckers.
Another problem is that insurance companies actively discourage shippers from using truckers with Conditional ratings, which ends up putting those carriers out of business until they can qualify for Satisfactory ratings.
Speaking at industry meetings earlier this year, two different FMCSA officials seemingly contradicted each other. One said that a possible revamping of the system will soon be under review, while another pronounced that the topic is not even on the agency’s agenda for consideration.
In another development, FMCSA said it plans to drop a complicated method for assessing an individual carrier’s safety that had been developed for it by the National Academy of Sciences.
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 says it will focus more on recent violations when choosing carriers to be subject to roadside inspections.