OOIDA: Nonpreventable crashes shouldn’t affect drivers’ records

October 4, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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Crashes deemed “not preventable” should not be counted against truck drivers or motor carriers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote in formal comments to the FMCSA on Oct. 4.

OOIDA was writing in response to the agency’s proposal to make its crash preventability determination program permanent. The Association is supportive of the proposal, saying that nonpreventable crashes have unnecessarily discredited safety ratings of drivers and motor carriers for far too long.

OOIDA response

“The results of the initial pilot program speak for themselves with approximately 93% of eligible crashes being determined as nonpreventable,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer.

“Crashes that are not the fault of the driver or a motor carrier should not be counted against them, nor should they be interpreted to predict the likelihood that the motor carrier will be involved in a future accident.”

The agency started the program in August 2017, reviewing more than 5,600 crashes submitted by truck and bus companies to determine if a crash could have been prevented by a motor carrier. According to the agency, 93% of the crashes were found to be unpreventable by the motor carrier or commercial driver.

“After 18 months of operating the program, FMCSA has decided to operate a crash preventability determination program, using a streamlined process, and proposes to modify the Safety Measurement System to remove crashes found to be not preventable from the prioritization algorithm and noting the not preventable determinations in the pre-employment screening program,” the notice stated.

During the initial pilot program, OOIDA members noted that the reviews did not affect the driver’s pre-employment screening program.

“We are optimistic that the expanded program will address this by noting the not preventable determinations in PSP,” OOIDA wrote.

As part of FMCSA’s proposal, there would be 15 crash types.

  • Struck in rear.
  • Legally stopped or parked.
  • Suicides or suicide attempts.
  • Wrong direction.
  • Animal strikes.
  • Individuals under the influence.
  • Infrastructure failure or struck by cargo, equipment or debris.
  • Struck on the side in the rear.
  • Commercial motor vehicle struck by vehicle that did not stop or slow in traffic.
  • CMV struck by vehicle that failed to stop at a traffic control device.
  • CMV struck by vehicle making U-turn or illegal turn.
  • CMV struck by driver who experiences medical issue.
  • CMV struck by driver who admits falling asleep or to distracted driving.
  • When crash involves an individual under the influence even if the CMV was struck by another vehicle involved in the crash.
  • When crash involves a driver operating in wrong direction even if CMV was struck by another vehicle involved in the crash.

“OOIDA recommends including another crash type to the program. While the updated list of 15 types of crashes is more extensive than the pilot program, we believe a category covering ‘rare or unusual’ cases would be a practical addition. This category would cover unique scenarios, such as a September 2019 incident where a skydiver caused a truck crash in Northern California.”

The Association said it is pleased FMCSA is taking steps to stop truck drivers being negatively affected for crashes they couldn’t prevent.

“We are optimistic that the expansion of this program will show sufficient data, so drivers do not have to submit documentation and endure a review process in order to remove nonpreventable crashes from their record,” OOIDA wrote.

The comment period on the proposal ended Oct. 4.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, 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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.