This past week, FMCSA released their study about whether or not to determine preventability of crashes in their CSA system. Naturally, they found that determining preventability would not be cost-effective, nor would it enhance its ability to target motor carriers likely to crash. Shazam! Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Well of course the agency found this. As everyone in the industry knows, from the largest of the ATA carriers, to the small business owners, to the individual drivers, using blatant no-fault accidents against the industry is patently unfair. However, the FMCSA does not give a damn about due process or fairness. In fact, they try to get around due process at every turn because it just slows them down. â€œYou stupid motor carriers and drivers, concerned about your rights! Youâ€™re just slowing things down!â€ The FMCSA just wants to do whatever it wants to do, and if the regulated industry is unfairly hurt, too bad.
Directive #2, as part of my Manifesto for a Fairer, More Crash-Sensitive FMCSA (the name of my Manifesto is still under construction), is consider preventability as part of whatever ranking system is used, if any. I say that because I havenâ€™t decided whether to keep CSA yet. At any rate, for now, letâ€™s assume we are going to keep it. As I said, the agency doesnâ€™t care about fairness. In my FMCSA, we do care about fairness. We care, not just because it seems like the American thing to do, but because I do think there is a link between due process and crash reduction.
In order for there to be a reduction in accidents, the carriers and the drivers need to buy in. I think purposely counting accidents which obviously are not the fault of the carriers and drivers fosters an attitude of defeat, and apathy. In other words, carriers and drivers think, â€œscrew it, it doesnâ€™t matter what we do, theyâ€™re going to nail us no matter what,â€ as they throw up their hands, and disregard safety.
Furthermore, this feeds into one of my main theories on why the Obama FMCSA is failing to achieve accident reduction. This sort of unfairness further forces qualified drivers out of the industry. I believe most truck accidents are caused primarily by a substandard driver. I have no hard data to back that up, just a hunch I have. With less and less qualified drivers available, there are more and more substandard drivers taking their place. Putting no-fault accidents onto a driverâ€™s pre-employment screening report is just another form of harassment driving good drivers out of the industry.
The issue of preventability is not a small issue, either. As we all know, the vast majority of truck crashes are not the truckâ€™s fault. Nearly every carrier in the U.S. of any size has at least one non-preventable accident on their record. Countless numbers of drivers have had employment opportunities lost because of a no-fault accident on their record. Yet the FMCSA shrugs and says, â€œso?â€ In my FMCSA, drivers and carriers will be held accountable, but we will do so fairly. If my FMCSA hurts or attacks a carrier or driver, you will have earned it.
As far as the cost goes, see my Directive #1, which was â€œFire Half of the FMCSA staffâ€. With the savings from that, we can consider preventability rather easily, I believe.