FMCSA estimates its programs saved 472 lives in 2012

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 3/4/2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates its commercial vehicle roadside safety inspection and traffic enforcement programs saved 472 in 2012, and more than 7,000 lives since 2001.

The agency announced the findings via press release on Monday, Feb. 29. Data from 2012 is the most recent available from FMCSA’s annual Roadside Intervention Effectiveness Model. The agency’s release also estimates that the safety programs prevented nearly 9,000 injuries from more than 14,000 crashes involving large commercial trucks and buses.

“Over the last several decades, we’ve made tremendous strides in reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries on our nation’s roadways,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said via the release. “The roadside safety inspection and traffic enforcement programs exemplify our commitment to continue to raise the bar on safety and build upon our progress.”

But a white paper published by the OOIDA Foundation, the research arm of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says that FMCSA’s statistical model may be flawed and greatly overstating the impact of its enforcement programs.

In a May 2014 white paper, “Review of FMCSA’s Evaluating the Potential Safety Benefits of Electronic Hours-of-Service Recorders Final Report,” the Foundation stated that FMCSA’s model is based on the premise that interventions resulting in the correction of vehicle and driver violations via roadside inspections or traffic enforcement contribute to a reduction in crashes.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, said that while there is “undoubtedly a connection between enforcement activities and safety,” it’s far from an exact or precise science or connection.

“(FMCSA’s) regulations cry out for review to determine their effectiveness,” Spencer said. “Preventing crashes is an absolutely laudable goal. Our members, professional drivers, would put that as their highest priority.”

The Foundation notes that FMCSA’s roadside intervention model uses a risk-based approach to estimate the crash risk for every FMCSR. Under the model, the agency estimates a crash will occur on average with every 40th violation of the 11-hour rule, or for every 192 form-and-manner violations a crash will occur.

The big question raised by the white paper however, is that FMCSA has never established a true and direct relationship between violations such as form and manner, and crashes where the form-and-manner violation was a direct, proximate cause of the crash.

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