For many people in the country, trucking would appear to be a straightforward process: load from the shippers and transport to the receivers. However, most of the approximately 7.4 million people employed by the trucking industry know a lot more is involved. Very few trucking operations are alike, though many share similar characteristics. Differences can include type of freight hauled, specific customer requirements, equipment type, and geographical locations served, just to name a few. A motor carrier’s customer base, financial strength, culture, and management style all play a role in affecting the performance and safety of a company.
Each motor carrier’s unique operational challenges come with their own safety challenges in complying with the Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Though the industry has done a great job improving safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 4,951 fatalities in collisions with large trucks in 2018, a slight increase from 4,905 in 2017.
The FMCSA and NHTSA conducted the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) to examine the reasons for serious crashes involving large trucks. Of the 141,000 large trucks estimated to have been involved in crashes during the study period, results show which critical reasons—driver, vehicle, or environment—contributed to crashes.
Driver critical reasons are coded in four categories:
You can see that the driver plays a critical role in both the causation and prevention of accidents. FMCSA’s recent steps in pursuing the Beyond Compliance program study is to reward motor carriers that go above and beyond what is required to ensure safe operation. This stems from Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act 2015) Beyond Compliance requirements.
The FAST Act requires FMCSA to allow recognition, including credit or an improved Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile, for motor carriers that: (1) install advanced safety equipment; (2) use enhanced driver fitness measures; (3) adopt fleet safety management tools, technologies, and programs; or (4) satisfy other standards determined appropriate by the administrator.
If you would like to see how your trucking company is doing with compliance, there are tools available, including the Carrier Compliance Questionnaire. Ensuring safe and efficient operations every day on every trip begins with effective policies, procedures, and training. This questionnaire is designed to help you evaluate your current processes and identify areas where you can improve. While the list provides guidance, each motor carrier is responsible for knowing and complying with all applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs).
For further information, you can access the Carrier Compliance Questionnaire in the Motor Carrier Toolbox at acuity.com/mctb or via FMCSA’s website.