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FMCSA to overhaul system that identifies unsafe truck companies

Many trucking companies from throughout California and the rest of America have argued that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program produces unfair and inaccurate scores about their safety records. The FAST Act highway bill signed by the president in 2015 directed the FMCSA to reform its methods for rating trucking carriers, collecting data about safety and selecting companies for compliance reviews.

Drawing upon recommendations from the National Academies of Science, the FMCSA has proposed in a recently published report to adopt a scoring system based on item response theory. This approach could improve upon the previous system by measuring variables like safety violations and severity weights more completely. The administration's plan also calls for a switch to absolute scores for companies instead of relative scores that compare carriers.

The administration's report described its intention to collect more data about truck accidents and miles traveled. Regulators will need to collaborate with state agencies and trucking carriers to gather this information. The agency has scheduled a small scale test of the new scoring system for September 2018 and could apply the reforms broadly in 2019.

Accurate records about trucking companies' compliance with safety regulations matter because it could allow regulators to spot unsafe operators that increase crash hazards on public highways. A victim of a trucking accident might need information about a company's maintenance practices or a driver's hours of service to build a personal injury case. A truck accident injury law firm could help a victim burdened with high medical bills gather evidence that could support a claim for damages. Legal counsel may navigate an insurance company's bureaucracy and take a case to trial if the responsible party resists its obligation to compensate an accident victim.

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