SFD Proposed Update | Changing Rating To “Unfit”

by Luke Kibby


The proposed Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule, published Jan 21st, 2016 in the Federal Register, would update the FMCSA’s safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine a motor carrier’s overall safety fitness on a monthly basis.


The Proposed Changes

The proposed SFD rule would replace the current three-tier federal rating system of “satisfactory–conditional–unsatisfactory” for federally regulated commercial motor carriers (in place since 1982) with a single determination of “unfit,” which would require the carrier to either improve its operations or cease operations.

Once in place, the SFD rule will permit FMCSA to assess the safety fitness of approximately 75,000 companies a month. By comparison, the agency is only able to investigate 15,000 motor carriers annually – with less than half of those companies receiving a safety rating.

The proposed methodology would determine when a carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce based on:

1. The carrier’s performance in relation to a fixed failure threshold established in the rule for five of the agency’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs);
2. Investigation results; or
3. A combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

A Pattern Of Noncompliance Is Needed For An “Unfit” Rating

The proposed rule further incorporates rigorous data sufficiency standards and would require that a significant pattern of non-compliance be documented in order for a carrier to fail a BASIC.

When assessing roadside inspection data results, the proposal uses a minimum of 11 inspections with violations in a single BASIC within a 24-month period before a motor carrier could be eligible to be identified as “unfit.” If a carrier’s individual performance meets or exceeds the failure standards in the rule, it would then fail that BASIC.

Failure of a BASIC based on either crash data or compliance with drug and alcohol requirements would only occur following a comprehensive investigation.

The Road Back From “Unfit”

After 60 days from the “unfit” rating determination, the carrier would be required to cease operations. During those 60 days, a negotiated settlement based on a carrier’s corrective action plan (CAP) is possible, but the FMCSA needs 45 of those 60 days to evaluate the CAP. This shortened time period effectively means that a motor carrier has 15 days to submit a CAP to respond to a proposed “unfit” rating.

Glostone Trucking Solutions have helped clients through the upgrade process with a corrective action plan (CAP). You can read our client’s success story by downloading at our library page: http://www.glostone.com/library

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