The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking to broaden the scope of a crash review program, including allowing more use of video evidence as defense
The agency described the proposed changes, which include adding four new eligible crash types, in a Federal Register notice published Thursday. The expanded Crash Preventability Determination Program could help carriers and the government further distinguish between preventable and not-preventable crashes.
In cases labeled as not preventable, the agency excludes a crash from the calculation of a company’s safety score, which the government uses to prioritize warning letters, roadside inspections and investigations.
While the agency currently accepts photo and video in correcting its data, the FMCSA proposal would expand that video allowance, permitting more crash types to be reviewed.
Currently, a crash must be among those 16 eligible crash types to be considered for the crash review program.
The proposal would add four new eligible crash types, covering when:
- A passing motorist’s vehicle — moving in the same direction as a commercial motor vehicle — struck the latter on the side. (Currently this crash type is limited to side strikes in the very rear of the vehicle.)
- A motorist’s vehicle entering the roadway from a private driveway or parking lot struck a CMV.
- Another motorist lost control of the person’s vehicle, hitting a CMV.
- Incidents in which video demonstrates the sequence of events of the crash involving a CMV.
Carriers and drivers involved in the crashes can submit evidence to the program, allowing the FMCSA to determine if a crash is not preventable.
“It’s a great idea and way past time,” said Joe Rajkovacz, the director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western States Trucking Association, of the video use.
Agency data suggests that the crash designations help prioritize matters submitted for review and are meaningful. Out of more than 39,000 requests for review submitted to the agency from May 1, 2020, to Dec. 30, 2022, about 72.5% were one of 16 eligible crash types, according to FMCSA. Of those crash incidents, the agency determined about 96% were non-preventable.
“It’s a positive that they’re expanding the crash types that will be covered,” the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in a statement. “However, the driver/carrier is still responsible for doing all the work to get the crash overturned ... . Right now, FMCSA has a message stating ‘due to a high volume of submissions to the Crash Preventability Determination Program, requests for data review are taking over 90 days to process.’”
A comment period for the proposed changes ends on June 12. The agency suggested it would analyze the proposed changes for two years.