In April, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed changes to its Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP) to clarify existing eligible crash scenarios for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and add four new crash types. The FMCSA is inviting comments on the proposal, which are due by June 12.
FMCSA first launched the CPDP as a two-year demonstration program running from August 2017 through July 2019 with eight eligible crash types for consideration. Based on stakeholder feedback and participation, the Agency formally introduced the program with an expansion of eligible crash types and a modification to CSA’s Safety Management System to exclude crashes determined to be non-preventable from the calculation of the Crash Indicator BASIC.
This modification was a significant win for the trucking industry, as one of the most common objections to CSA – the Agency’s “Compliance, Safety, Accountability program to ‘score’ motor carriers against their peers – was that the Crash Indicator category gave no consideration for preventability. Now, carriers who participate in the program can see improvement in their scores, and more importantly, more authenticity from an overall safety perspective.
Through December 2022, almost 40,000 crashes had been submitted for review, with around 10,000 deemed ineligible for consideration (because they didn’t fit into one of the eligible crash types), and nearly 25,000 determined to be non-preventable. All told, among the cumulative determinations made, 96% of crashes have been found to be non-preventable on the part of the truck driver. Broadly speaking, and at least among the program’s eligible crash types, this correlates to various studies that indicate up to three-fourths of all crashes involving a CMV are the fault of someone other than the CMV driver.
With its April 13 announcement, FMCSA is considering the addition of four new eligible crash types:
- CMV was struck on the side by a motorist operating in the same direction. Currently, the crash type is limited to side strikes at the very rear of the vehicle (e.g., 5:00 and 7:00 points of impact).
- CMV was struck because another motorist was entering the roadway from a private driveway or parking lot.
- CMV was struck because another motorist lost control of their vehicle. FMCSA notes that many police accident reports (PARs) submitted under the current program fit this description but are currently ineligible for the program.
- Any other type of crash involving a CMV where a video demonstrates the sequence of events of the crash. FMCSA believes that the submission of videos could allow it to review crashes that are not in the 21 other types.
Most of the changes to the existing crash types are slight verbiage adjustments, although FMCSA is proposing a stand-alone category for “CMV was involved in a crash with a non-motorist.” Under the current criteria, these events are included in the “Rare and Unusual” crash type. A complete listing of the new proposed categories and other changes can be found here.
The most notable proposed change among the new eligible crash types seems to be the fourth, “Any other type of crash…” With the caveat that video evidence is a requirement for consideration, this category may serve as a catch-all with the potential to vastly increase the number of submissions to the program. In fact, FMCSA acknowledges in its Federal Register notice that the proposed adjustments are expected to result in a doubling of the size of the Program.
While overall, the changes FMCSA proposes appear to be favorable for the industry, motor carriers who have elected to not install in-cab cameras (road-facing, driver-facing, or both) will now find themselves at a disadvantage in comparison to their peers who do have cameras. In these instances, solutions like Trimble’s AI-powered Video Intelligence, complete with a suite of cameras and on-board support software, become more essential than ever.
In the event of a crash, fleets equipped with in-cab cameras will have an expanded opportunity to justify a non-preventable determination, improve their Crash Indicator score, and from a liability perspective position themselves more favorably in potential litigation. Of course, this assumes carriers have previously or will participate in the CPDP. Doing so can help to improve internal policies and procedures on crash preventability programs, and sends a strong message to drivers that fleets are taking action to support them when they most need it.
About the Author
David O'Neal - Senior Associate, Scopelitis
This piece was produced in collaboration with David O’Neal, senior associate at Scopelitis Transportation Consulting LLC. David has more than 25 years of experience with major motor carriers and industry trade associations. Before joining Scopelitis, he served as Managing Director of Safety at FedEx Freight and FedEx Ground, and Vice President of Safety at Roadrunner and Yellow. Follow him on LinkedIn or get in touch at email@example.com.