The FMCSA has recently issued guidance on how carriers can dispute certain crashes and have them removed from their CSA scores.
On July 27, 2017, the agency announced the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program. According to this program, the agency would accept RDRs (requests for data reviews) and evaluate the preventability of certain types of crashes through its national data correction system, DataQs.
Since the pilot program opened on August 1, 2017, more than 2,500 requests have been submitted to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Based on these experiences, the agency identified a need for further instructions and details.
Submitting eligible crashes correctly
According to the FMCSA, the DataQs system includes both the standard review program and the crash preventability demonstration program.
However, some carriers submitted crashes under the “standard review program”, instead of the “crash preventability demonstration program”. They did so by selecting “Not an FMCSA-reportable crash”.
It is important to remember that a selection of “Not an FMCSA-reportable crash” will have the request closed without a preventability determination.
The agency clarified that “Not an FMCSA-reportable crash” is for crashes that “do not meet the FMCSA’s recordable crash definition of fatality, injury, or property damage requiring a vehicle to be towed from the scene.”
Therefore, RDRs entered under the standard review program will be closed without a preventability determination, because those were not submitted under the demonstration program.
For the Crash Preventability Program, carriers will have to do the following:
- Select “crash could not be prevented.”
- Make sure that the crash occurred after June 1, 2017.
- Select an eligible crash type.
Eligible crash types
According to the FMCSA, the following crash types are eligible for review during the pilot program:
- When the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) was struck by a motorist driving under the influence (or related offense);
- When the CMV was struck by a motorist driving the wrong direction;
- When the CMV was struck in the rear;
- When the CMV was struck while it was legally stopped or parked, including when the vehicle was unattended;
- When the CMV struck an individual committing or attempting to commit suicide by stepping or driving in front of the CMV;
- When the CMV sustained disabling damage after striking an animal in the roadway;
- When the crash was the result of an infrastructure failure, falling trees, rocks, or other debris; or
- When the CMV was struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle.
Ineligible crash types
The FMCSA also highlighted that there are certain crash types that are ineligible under the demonstration program. Following are examples of ineligible crash types that were submitted to the FMCSA but did not qualify for the review:
- Crashes that do not meet any eligible crash type (all the points mentioned in the previous heading).
- RDRs asserting the driver who struck the CMV was operating under the influence without any supporting evidence.
- Crashes identified as “struck by a motorist driving the wrong direction” where the vehicle that struck the CMV was not operating completely in the wrong lane and in the wrong direction.
Note: Eligible crashes include when the vehicle that struck the CMV completely crossed the median or center line and traveled into opposing traffic or was operating in the wrong direction on a divided highway.
Crashes where the CMV was struck in other places on the vehicle, but not in the rear.
- Crashes when vehicles were stopped in traffic — not legally parked.
- RDRs alleging suicide attempts without appropriate supporting evidence.
- RDRs indicating the CMV struck other vehicles stopped for a fallen tree or rocks, but the CMV did not strike the tree or rocks.
- Review requests which state that the CMV was struck by equipment or cargo, but the document says otherwise, i.e., the CMV was hit by another vehicle.
The FMCSA has clarified that the onus is on the submitter to provide the necessary documents and evidence to prove that the crash was not preventable.
The agency has also clarified that it can request additional information on the crash as well as additional documents that the carrier is required to maintain as per the FMCSA’s regulations.
The review process
If the agency determines that a certain crash could have been preventable, carriers will have the option to re-open the request if they have additional information that could prove non-preventability.
According to the agency, one of the three decisions can be made during the review process:
- Not preventable
- Undecided (if the submitted documents don’t lead to a conclusive decision)
In the “undecided” scenario, the carrier’s SMS rating would include a note that reads “FMCSA reviewed this crash and could not make a preventability determination based on the evidence provided.”
In case it is deemed “not preventable”, law enforcement will be able to see the carrier’s crash indicator BASIC percentile both with and without the crash. It would also have a note that the FMCSA has reviewed the crash and deemed it non-preventable.
The agency believes in providing “the most complete information regarding a motor carrier’s safety performance record.” Therefore, non-preventable crashes would still appear in the CSA SMS but won’t count against the carrier.
Drivers, carriers, or any member of the general public can submit crash preventability RDRs through the FMCSA’s DataQs system. Here is the link: https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov. It usually takes around two weeks to have an RDR reviewed.
If you want additional information on submitting a crash preventability RDR, follow this link.