We Are Making Progress – Quite frequently your association asks you to reach out to a lawmaker or regulator to speak out on an issue. Given the volume of issues we face, you may wonder if such contacts make any difference. I am here to emphatically say, YES THEY DO! Here are just a few examples of changes that came about directly because of the persistent effort by truckers.
Adjudicated Citations Now Treated Differently – The MTA has long advocated that motor carriers and drivers who have been found not guilty in court or had a citation dismissed or reduced should have a system for having that reflected in the PSP and SMS calculations. We repeatedly told this to members of Congress and to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administrator, Anne Ferro, in face-to-face meetings. The good news such a system is now in place through the DataQ system.
According to the American Trucking Association, if a citation is dismissed or the defendant found not guilty, the violation will be removed from PSP and from SMS calculations. If the defendant is found guilty of a lesser offense, it will be noted on the record and the offense’s SMS severity weight will be reduced to value of “1.” Convictions for an original charge will remain unchanged. The original citation information will be retained for enforcement users.
CSA Website to Have a Different Look – Another concern among truckers has been the display of data on the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) website. Truckers have experienced numerous situations where this data has been misinterpreted and misapplied. The industry has brought these concerns to the FMCSA, and they listened!
The most significant change is the removal of motor carriers’ Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentile scores on the initial landing page. Instead, BASICs will be represented with icons listed in order of their BASIC’s correlation with crash risk – Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hour-of-Service Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, Controlled Substance/Alcohol, Hazardous Materials Compliance, and Driver Fitness. All BASIC percentile scores, except for those that remain private (Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials Compliance) will able available to users by clicking on any one BASIC icon.
The redesign also includes efforts to highlight a carrier’s measure (based on the results of the carrier’s roadside inspections or crashes and not relative to other motor carriers in its safety event group, i.e. percentile score) and includes convenient graphs that display the performance measure over time.
One Less Hurdle for Vets Seeking to Drive Truck – Truckers have also advocated that veterans who drive truck in the military should get credit for that experience when applying for a CDL. This has been a slow state by state effort since driver’s licenses are issued by states. Finally, on June 27, 2014, Alaska became the 50th state to participate in the FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver Program. Begun in 2011, the Program grants state licensing agencies, including the District of Columbia, the authority to waive the skills test portion of the commercial driver’s license application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus.
Persistence Pays Off – All of the changes mentioned above came as the direct result of MTA members and others across this industry asking for them. They didn’t just happen. The letters, e-mails, phone calls and visits were critical to bringing about meaningful change. Yes, we are making progress!
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