U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced on July 9, 2015 that the committee will convene today, July 15, 2015, to consider and vote on S. 1732, the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015.
Why is this important?
The legislation authorizes the office of the secretary of transportation for the next six years (fiscal years 2016 through 2021) and contains key reforms to enhance safety, provide regulatory relief, streamline grant programs, and improve the accountability and efficiency of oversight efforts. Specifically, the Act addresses reform of the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Program.
Senator Thune (proponent of the legislation) was quoted in Transport Topics stating, “We need to take another look at the data inputs, how accident fault is used, and whether there might be a better way to develop a safety partnership. Each element of the bill I hope to introduce soon is designed to improve safety while enhancing the regulator-industry relationship.”
According to the American Trucking Associations, if passed, “the bill would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to commission a Transportation Research Board study of the CSA program and carriers’ Safety Management System (SMS) scores. Specifically, the study would:
- Evaluate whether SMS scores reliably predict future crash risk for motor carriers and whether the system provides enforcement benefits for both large and small motor carriers.
- Require that FMCSA remove SMS data alerts, scores, and percentiles from public view until the study report and FMCSA’s corresponding corrective action plan have been published, and recommendations completed.
- Violation and crash data would remain publicly available. Scores, alerts and percentiles would remain available to state and local law enforcement for enforcement purposes only, and could be made available to the respective driver or carrier upon request.
- Require FMCSA to develop a review program to remove certain types of crashes from the CSA system when the motor carrier was not at fault.
- Finally, FMCSA would be required to develop a program to recognize outstanding safety practices and to provide positive SMS points for investments in select, non‐mandated, safety technologies, tools, programs, and systems. The points would be presented online with other SMS data.”
The outcome of today’s vote and the future of this legislation are still in the air, but, if passed, expect big, positive changes in the transportation industry.
Emily Littlefield is an associate attorney at Roberts Perryman. Emily’s’s practice focuses on transportation, insurance coverage and defense.
Roberts Perryman has been a leader in transportation defense for over 50 years with offices in St. Louis and Springfield, MO and Belleville, IL. http://www.robertsperryman.com