'Beyond Compliance' methodology is beyond good sense

Woody Chambers, OOIDA General VP

In mid-January, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hosted a listening session in Louisville about the congressionally ordered plan called "Beyond Compliance." The message OOIDA conveyed at the session was clear.

There is no reason to create a program where motor carriers may not have the best Compliance, Safety, Accountability safety measurement scores, but if they install a bunch of gadgets beyond what is required, they get a better score. How will this not discriminate against small-business, one-truck operators who cannot afford the technology they are promoting? Carriers should be rewarded for installing competent, experienced drivers - not gadgets - in their trucks.

The idea that large motor carriers can install various systems that are pushed by vendors through Congress and get a higher safety rating because they had them installed makes no sense whatsoever.

The reason they are installing it: Their drivers don't know how to drive. Their turnover rate exceeds 100 percent every year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should be focusing on creating a driver training rule, and helping create a culture of safety by establishing baseline training items a driver must know how to do before going on the open road.

We all know technology does not drive trucks. Since Congress has charged FMCSA with the task of offering Beyond Compliance award points, the agency must ensure that this does not act as a substitute for commonsense safety initiatives. The agency should focus on promoting technology that has a proven record of actually improving safety.

FMCSA should be vocal about their metrics for success by asking how many accidents will be reduced by their technology. And then they should be held accountable if carriers who adopt the technology do not experience the desired result. Also, perhaps retire the "beyond" points they create if the technology doesn't hit the mark.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association's position is that the violations don't necessarily have a relationship to crash rate (or safety). This is the only rational basis for giving carriers a break on their SMS safety rating. The bottom line: The methodology that FMCSA adopts needs to be based on reduced crashes, not on reduced violations. LL