Beyond Compliance can’t favor big fleets, OOIDA says

September 18, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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As part of its formal comments regarding FMCSA’s information collection request about plans for its Beyond Compliance program, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association emphasized concerns that it could favor large carriers.

In August, the FMCSA published an information collection request aimed at studying the effectiveness of safety technologies before it rolls out the congressionally mandated Beyond Compliance program. The public comment period ended Thursday, Sept. 17.

The 2015 FAST Act required FMCSA to implement the Beyond Compliance program to allow recognition, including an improved Safety Measurement System percentile for motor carriers that added advanced safety equipment and adopted certain safety programs.

Pay to play?

“OOIDA members are concerned that Beyond Compliance has the potential to give an advantage to only those carriers who can afford costly new technologies,” OOIDA wrote in its comments. “If these motor carriers are rewarded with better public safety scores, then smaller carriers would likely see their score downgraded without any actual change in their safety performance.

“Beyond Compliance must measure and reward actual crash reduction, or continued exemplary performance for those carriers without a preventable DOT reportable crash, on a carrier by carrier basis.”

FMCSA said its Beyond Compliance study is aimed at completing three objectives:

Identify high-performing carriers in terms of safety performance.
Determine the safety technologies, programs and policies employed by these carriers.
Gauge the relative effectiveness of those safety technologies, programs and policies based on the expert opinion and performance metrics of the high performing carriers.

In addition to the carriers invited by FMCSA to participate in the survey, FMCSA said it will also reach out to OOIDA and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies to invite them to voluntarily survey members as a supplemental data collection to the structured design.

“The input from owner-operators and independent truckers, many of whom have driven millions of miles without any crashes, will be critical in determining the most effective safety policies and programs that should be included in the Beyond Compliance initiative,” OOIDA wrote. “We welcome the opportunity to help convey these ideas to FMCSA through OOIDA member outreach.”

Valuing safe, experienced drivers

OOIDA said the program needs to value the experienced truck drivers who have displayed what it takes to avoid crashes and maintain safety rather than large fleets who simply pay for the latest technology.

“FMCSA must seek and value input from small-business motor carriers and owner-operators as the agency develops their Beyond Compliance program,” the Association wrote. “OOIDA strongly opposes FMCSA rewarding carriers simply because they have the money and economies of scale to purchase new equipment. OOIDA believes Beyond Compliance should include practices that actually improve safety, such as training, retention and accident-free miles driven.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.