NTTC Victory: FMCSA Abandons Plans to Score Tank Carriers Separately in CSA HAZMAT BASIC

On July 16, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officially abandoned its proposed changes to the Safety Management System that prioritizes carriers for heightened inspections under FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. Most notably for tank truck carriers, FMCSA is abandoning its plan to separate the scoring groups in the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC (HM BASIC) into cargo-tank and non-cargo tank categories. 
 
Because tank carriers usually have lower HM BASIC scores than general freight carriers, this change, if it had been implemented, would have severely and negatively impacted tank carriers’ scores and subjected them to more frequent inspections and compliance reviews. NTTC submitted comments in opposition to this change. We are pleased that FMCSA chose to follow safety science and not to split the HM BASIC into cargo-tank and general freight categories.
 
A provision in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act required the National Academy of Sciences to report on the proposed changes, including whether or not adopting them would make SMS a better predictor of carrier safety. When the
 report did not conclusively state that the changes would do so, FMCSA abandoned all of them. FMCSA shut down the CSA preview site and no scoring or organizational changes will be adopted.
 
Among the other proposed changes that were discarded are:

  • FMCSA will not change the intervention thresholds for HM carriers;
  • HM BASIC scores will not be displayed to the public;
  • Operating while Out-of-Service remains in the BASIC for the underlying OOS violation rather than in the Unsafe Driving BASIC;
  • The maximum Vehicle-Miles Traveled will not be increased for BASICs that consider miles traveled when creating their index scores; and
  • Carriers who have gone more than one year since their last inspection will continue to be scored in SMS until their violations drop off at the end of the 24-month violation lookback period.
 
While the final two proposals would have had positive impacts on our industry, those positive impacts would have been overwhelmed by splitting the HM BASIC into cargo-tank and general freight categories. NTTC will continue to advocate for improvements that will improve the CSA program’s ability to identify unsafe carriers while defending against any attempts to target our segment for unwarranted scrutiny.