In June 2012, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration amended its enforcement policy relating to calculating and publicizing driver, vehicle and hazardous materials out-of-service rates and crash rates (see, FR Doc. 2012-15740; Published June 27, 2012).

As a requisite to issuing a hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP), a motor carrier must have a crash rate or, as the case may be, driver, vehicle, or hazardous materials out-of-service rate in the top 30 percentile of the national average. Presently, the formula applied relies upon two years of inspection data from FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System to calculate the out-of-service rates representing the worst-performing ‘top’ 30 percent of the national average. FMSCA recalculates the threshold crash and out-of-service rates every two years, relying upon the inspection data from the preceding two years. Over time, the calculated 70th percentile out-of-service thresholds have fluctuated and, understandably, this has created great uncertainty in the industry. Indeed, it has become increasingly difficult for a motor carrier to remain outside the top 30%. For carriers of fireworks that, commonly, transport seasonally or sporadically, an unintended and unwarranted hardship occurs.

FMSCA has seemingly responded to these interests by revising its formula to the extent that, going forward, eight years of inspection data will be relied upon in the course of determining the national average for eligible crash and out-of-service thresholds to be applied to hazardous materials safety permits. The new methodology remains “static”, meaning unchanged, “until further notice.”

The main difference in the 8-year formula from the previous 2-year version will be the number of inspections (12) that will be required during the extended 8-year timeframe. This increase in number of inspections should cause a decrease in the number of inspections with an out-of-service rate of 0.00%; some carriers had a perfect record, on paper, due to the fact that they did not drive enough to generate inspections. In the aggregate, the increase in inspection data will cause the overall averages to rise and, while higher it is, according to FMCSA, “a more appropriate indicator of placarded motor carriers’ roadside inspection hazardous materials out-of-service performance than prior formulas relying upon 2 years if data that can result in skewed results (e.g., carriers with perfect records and no recorded inspections).

For those readers interested in the details of the FMCSA formulas for calculating a crash rate or, as the case may be, driver, vehicle, or hazardous materials out-of-service rate, all of these rates are posted on the FMCSA website Additional conditions relating to a carrier acquiring a satisfactory safety rating are described in § 385.407.

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