Lawrence J Hamilton II is a Partner at Holland and Knight's Jacksonville office and Jameson B Rice is an Associate at the Tampa office
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may overhaul how it evaluates the safety of the carriers it regulates following the release of a new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS). The NAS on June 27, 2017, released its 132-page report, which concluded that the SMS was conceptually sound and reasonable but needed to be improved. While complimentary of various ideas and efforts of the FMCSA, the report validated complaints of carriers that the SMS data was not consistent or reliable and stated that "there is a particular concern about false negatives and false positives among smaller carriers, which results from not having much data with which to judge them." In another significant development relating to the use of CSA data, a proposal is being discussed in Congress that would establish a national hiring standard for motor carriers. The "Transportation and Logistics Hiring Reform Act of 2017" (H.R.1568 and S.1345), would prohibit CSA data from being used for negligent hiring claims. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may overhaul how it evaluates the safety of the carriers it regulates following the release of a new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS). The authors of this alert have covered the previous actions that led to the withdrawal of the proposed Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule that was based upon the data analyzed in the study. (See Holland & Knight alerts, " Is the Proposed Safety Fitness Determination Rule in Jeopardy?", Jan. 19, 2017; and " Proposed Safety Fitness Determination Rule Withdrawn, Unlikely to Return," May 1, 2017).
The NAS study examined how well the FMCSA's Safety Measurement System (SMS), part of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, identifies high-risk carriers. Amid concerns that the data used by the agency did not accurately reflect the safety of the carriers, Congress mandated the study as part of the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and ordered that the SMS data be removed from public view pending the study's results. However, the FMCSA under the Obama Administration proposed the SFD rule shortly thereafter, even though such rule would have expanded use of the same data that was being evaluated at the direction...