FMCSA clears up confusion on crash preventability program

February 6, 2018

Jami Jones


The first six months of the first-ever program to determine whether a truck crash was preventable hasn’t been all smooth sailing. And, to counter issues, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is releasing additional information to assist users.

The Crash Preventability Demonstration Program officially launched Aug. 1. The program is to test the feasibility and usefulness of determining crash preventability in a limited number of truck-involved crash types. Generally, crash types are considered less complex.

Since the program launched, more than 2,500 requests for review have been submitted to FMCSA. Problem is, the agency identified some areas of the program that need more explanation and instruction.

The program allows motor carriers to request a review of a crash to determine if the motor carrier could have prevented the crash. The demonstration program is limited to eight specific types of crashes:

  • When the commercial motor vehicle 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.

The demonstration program also only accepts requests for review of crashes that happened after June 1.

The requests for review are handled through the DataQ system – the same system that challenges violations in the Compliance, Safety and Accountability Program.

According to a notice that will publish in the Federal Register on Feb. 7, users are not always selecting the appropriate category in the DataQ system to have a crash reviewed under the demonstration program.

“For the crash preventability demonstration program, submitters should choose ‘Crash could not be prevented,’ ensure that the crash event date is on or after June 1, 2017, and select an eligible crash type,” the notice states.

Proof that a crash was not preventable by a motor carrier lies with the motor carrier. FMCSA has not set up specific documentation to be submitted along with the review request.

“Because the burden is on the submitter to show by compelling evidence that the crash was not preventable, the submitter should submit all evidence in support of the preventability determination,” the notice states.

However, the agency can, and has, followed up on requests and asked for additional information to ensure that the truck was being operated in a fully compliant manner at the time of the crash. Some of that additional information that has been requested is proof of a valid CDL and medical card.

Finally, if a review is closed with the determination that the crash was preventable or undecided by the agency, motor carriers can have the request re-opened one time. That’s only allowed when additional or new documentation is available.

The information gathered in the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program is not intended to be used in civil court cases and is not considered a determination of fault or negligence. The decisions also do not remove reportable crashes from the CSA reporting and scoring system. Rather, the information is intended to be used to assist with agency’s focus on future crash risk assessments and the impact on CSA’s crash rates.

The program is set to continue at least through July 2019.

For more information on how to properly submit crash reports to the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program, click here.