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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-02-015
Details
Synopsis: On May 31, 2001, about 3:28 p.m. central daylight time, a southbound Gayle Stuart Trucking, Inc., (Stuart Trucking) truck-tractor semitrailer exited Interstate 540 at State Highway 282 (SH-282) near Mountainburg, Arkansas. The driver was unable to stop at the stop sign at the bottom of the ramp. The 79,040-pound combination unit was traveling approximately 48 mph when it entered the intersection and collided with the right side of a westbound, 65-passenger, 1990 Blue Bird Corporation school bus operated by the Mountainburg, Arkansas, Public Schools. The school bus rotated approximately 300 degrees clockwise and overturned; the body, which partially separated from the chassis, came to rest on its right side on the eastbound shoulder of SH-282. The tractor semitrailer continued across the roadway, rotated about 60 degrees clockwise, overturned, and came to rest on its left side. Three school bus passengers seated across from the impact area were fatally injured; one was partially ejected. Two other passengers, one of whom was seated in the impact area, received serious injuries, and four passengers had minor injuries. The school bus driver and the truckdriver both sustained minor injuries.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Revise 49 Code of Federal Regulations 396.13, Driver Inspection, to require minimum pretrip inspection procedures for determining brake adjustment.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Mountainburg, AR, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY01MH025
Accident Reports: Collision Between Truck-Tractor Semitrailer and School Bus
Report #: HAR-02-03
Accident Date: 5/31/2001
Issue Date: 9/13/2002
Date Closed: 7/6/2016
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 7/6/2016
Response: We recognize your ongoing collaboration with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to educate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers about the importance of proper brake adjustment through events such as Brake Safety Week and Operation Air Brake. In addition, we note your position that current regulations and guidance adequately address this recommendation; however, we respectfully disagree with this viewpoint and continue to investigate crashes in which we find brakes that were out of adjustment at the time of the accident; notably, the Miriam, Nevada, grade-crossing crash. The intent of this recommendation was to require a hands-on, rather than a visual, brake inspection. We continue to believe that it is highly unlikely that, under the current regulations, a CMV driver will climb under the vehicle to pull on the push rod and measure the stroke to determine brake adjustment unless required to do so. The pre-trip inspection is the last line of defense before a driver pulls his or her CMV out onto the road, and the process should ensure that the driver is operating a safe vehicle. Because this recommendation is nearly 14 years old and you still do not plan to revise the CFR as recommended, Safety Recommendation H-02-15 is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/23/2015
Response: -From Michael Jordan, Management and Program Analyst, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: • FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) continue to work with States to address brake safety issues in commercial motor vehicles (CMV), including the conduct of Brake Safety Week and Operation Air Brake. • The recommended action cannot be presented as a cost-beneficial item for rulemaking. o A driver’s pre-trip inspection of a CMV’s service brakes is limited to those components that are readily visible while performing as thorough a visual inspection as possible without physically going under the vehicle. [None of the items listed in 49 CFR 392.7 that are a part of the driver’s required pre-trip inspection require the driver to physically go under the vehicle.] o A driver is not required to be a qualified brake inspector, and may not be qualified to perform brake adjustment. o The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Manual provides guidance concerning pre-trip inspection procedures applicants must demonstrate to obtain a CDL. ? The procedure for checking the service brakes is designed to help the driver determine whether the brakes are working correctly and that the vehicle does not pull to one side or the other. ? The CDL applicant should drive the CMV forward at 5 mph, apply the service brake, and attempt to stop the vehicle to determine: (1) If it pulls to either side, and (2) that it stops when the brakes are applied. • FMCSA will not pursue rulemaking to address the recommended action. FMCSA requests that NTSB close Safety Recommendation H-02-015.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 10/15/2013
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), titled “Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance; Driver-Vehicle Inspection Report,” which was published at 78 Federal Register (FR) 48125 on August 7, 2013. The NPRM proposes to rescind the requirement that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers operating in interstate commerce, except drivers of passenger-carrying CMVs, submit, and motor carriers retain, driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) when the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any vehicle defects or deficiencies (no-defect DVIR). The NPRM asserts that rescinding this requirement would remove a significant information collection burden without adversely affecting safety. The NPRM also proposes to harmonize pre- and post-trip inspection lists. The NTSB agrees with the harmonization of the pre- and post-trip inspection lists. Also, the NTSB understands and supports the FMCSA goal of eliminating the paperwork burden and cutting waste; however, the NTSB is concerned that eliminating the no-defect DVIR requirement may have unintended consequences for vehicle maintenance and safety. Eliminating the requirement may foster an environment in which safety inspections are not conducted and vehicle defects are not detected until they lead to catastrophic crashes. The NTSB encourages the FMCSA to consider alternatives to reducing the paperwork burden that are less likely to have a negative impact on CMV safety. The NTSB has emphasized the importance of routine vehicle safety inspections in its investigative reports. Two recommendations, still open, have called upon the FMCSA to strengthen requirements: H-02-15 asks the FMCSA to revise 49 CFR 396.13, Driver Inspection, to require minimum pre-trip inspection procedures for determining brake adjustment; H-09-19 calls for a requirement that tire pressure be checked with a tire pressure gauge during pre-trip inspections, vehicle inspections, and roadside inspections of motor vehicles. The NTSB contends that including a means to document driver completion of such safety checks will result in improvements in overall vehicle safety.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 9/30/2010
Response: Notation 8248: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Announcement of Public Listening Session and Request for Comment, which was published at 75 Federal Register 53015 on August 30, 2010. The notice announced that the FMCSA planned to hold a public listening session to solicit input on key challenges facing the motor carrier industry, issues facing stakeholders, and concerns that should be considered by the agency in developing its next 5-year Strategic Plan. NTSB staff attended the listening session and provided the FMCSA with a list of open recommendations that have been issued to the FMCSA. The FMCSA also invited written comments, suggestions, and recommendations from all individuals and organizations regarding the FMCSA’s mission, vision, and strategic objectives (goals) for the plan. This letter provides a more detailed history of the currently open recommendations the NTSB has made to the FMCSA (attached), a summary of the key safety issues the FMCSA should address to improve truck and bus safety as presented during the NTSB’s April 28, 2010, testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security (attached), and responds to the questions most relevant to the NTSB’s mission for which the FMCSA is seeking input. Question 2. How can the FMCSA have a greater impact in the reduction of injuries and loss of life on our nation’s highways? The NTSB currently has 51 open recommendations that were issued to the FMCSA with the intent to improve safety on our highways. The implementation of these recommendations would allow the FMCSA to have both an immediate and lasting impact on reducing loss on our highways. We continue to believe that a plan to implement the recommendations on the NTSB’s Federal Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements (MWL) would significantly contribute to transportation safety. Question 5. How can the FMCSA balance driver-focused, vehicle-focused, motor carrier- focused compliance, interventions, and enforcement to achieve its safety mission? The NTSB has recommended that the FMCSA change the “balance” of its motor carrier oversight since 1999. The two most important factors related to safe motor carrier operations are the condition of the vehicles and the performance of the drivers. Current rules prevent the FMCSA from putting carriers out of service with an unsatisfactory rating in only one of the 6 rated factors. They must be unsatisfactory in at least 2 factors. In other words, they could be unsatisfactory in either the vehicle or driver areas and still be allowed to operate. The NTSB believes that an unsatisfactory in either category should be sufficient cause to place a carrier out of service. The NTSB recommended that the FMCSA do something relatively simple: change the safety fitness rating methodology so that adverse vehicle- or driver performance-based data alone would be sufficient to result in an overall “unsatisfactory” rating for a carrier. To date, the FMCSA has not acted on this recommendation. As a result, the NTSB added this recommendation to our Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The NTSB has been encouraged that the FMCSA is developing the CSA 2010 Initiative to include a greater emphasis on vehicle and driver safety. However, the NTSB is disappointed that the FMCSA did not make the incremental changes to the current safety system necessary to make either driver or vehicle deficiencies sufficient to affect the safety rating of a carrier. As such, the NTSB believes the FMCSA’s strategic plan should recognize the importance of getting carriers with unsafe drivers or unsafe vehicles off the road. Question 8. What technological changes could positively impact highway safety? The NTSB has recommended numerous technological improvements to both the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Two technologies, forward collision warning systems (FCWs) and electronic onboard recording systems (EOBRs), are currently on the NTSB’s Federal MWL. Both of these technologies have been available for the last decade and could have improved highway safety. More recently, the NTSB has recommended to NHTSA technologies for driver fatigue detection, stability control for buses, event data recording, and lane departure warning for buses. The implementation of these recommendations would significantly improve highway safety. Question 9. How will technology affect driver behavior? Well designed technology can improve driver performance. Current research by the FMCSA on vehicle based collision warning systems found improved driver performance as a result of technology. However, technology not designed for use in vehicles, such as cell phones, can distract the driver from the road. That is why the NTSB supported the FMCSA’s ban on texting. Further, the NTSB has included restricting bus drivers from using a cell phone on its Federal MWL. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this notice addressing concerns that should be considered in developing the FMCSA’s 5-year Strategic Plan. Many of the issues discussed here have been around for decades, and much is left to be done to improve highway safety. Prompt action is needed so that the trucks and buses that surround us on the nation’s highways are safely designed, maintained, and operated. We look forward to working with FMCSA in the near future to address the concerns presented in these comments.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 7/20/2007
Response: The Safety Board appreciates receiving a copy of Battelle Memorial Institute’s (Battelle’s) final report, titled Assessment of Potential Benefits and Costs of Revising Brake Inspection Procedures and Certifying Brake Technicians. The Battelle report finds that implementation of Safety Recommendation H-02-15 would not be cost beneficial to the motor carrier industry, particularly when high-end cost assumptions are used. FMCSA testimony at the Wilmer hearing indicated that the agency was exploring all options in the study—from simple visual inspections to a driver acquiring the ability to adjust brakes, an action that would require up to a year of inspector training. The FMCSA indicates that it will analyze the study results to determine the best course of action and will provide the Board with an update. We encourage the FMCSA to consider the importance of properly maintained and operating brakes when weighing the cost and safety aspects to determine future actions for this recommendation. We emphasize that the Board’s recommendation did not specify a need for comprehensive brake inspector training for drivers. The Board concluded in the report on the Mountainburg accident that had the driver involved in the Mountainburg accident and a driver in an earlier accident in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1999 been required to measure the stroke on each brake (as is recommended in the Commercial Driver’s License Manual) and determine its adjustment before they began driving on the day of their accidents, they may have discovered that some brakes were out of adjustment and taken appropriate corrective action. Pending revision of 49 CFR 396.13 to require minimum pretrip inspection procedures for determining brake adjustment, Safety Recommendation H-02-15 remains classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/17/2006
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 10/17/2006 3:06:57 PM MC# 2060512: - From Barbara Braswell, FMSCA: Please see attached the final report, Assessment of Potential Benefits and Costs of Revising Brake Inspection Procedures and Certifying Brake Technicians, prepared by the Battelle Memorial Institute for FMCSA. Transmission of this report is an interim activity to address NTSB Safety Recommendations H-02-15 and H-02-18, noted in your 7/28/06 letter. We will provide a further update once we have analyzed the results of the study and determined any appropriate future actions.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/3/2006
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 8/7/2006 12:14:43 PM MC# 2060389 - David H. Hugel, Acting Administrator: I am pleased to provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminimtion’s (FMCSA) response to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) questions from our June 15,2006, Comprehensive Safety AnaIysis 20 IO initiative briefing. Specifically, you asked how many motor carriers are included on our Safety Status Measurement System (“SafeSW) A and B Lists annually, and how many of these carriers are subject to a Compliance Review (CR) a m d y . The FMCSA’s Safestat system is updated monthIy, rather than annually, to identify new high- risk carriers in a timely manner and to reflect impved performance by carriers previously identified as high-risk. On average, there are approximately 5,500 motor carriers on FMCSA’s SafeStat A and B lists in a given month. As of May 2006, there were 5,636 motor carriers on FMCSA’s SafeStat A and B Lists. During fiscal year 2005, FMCSA and its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program partners conducted a total of 12,596 CRs. Of those reviews, 6,004 were conducted on motor carriers that were included on FMCSA’s A or B list at the time the CR was conducted. Please note that not all SafeStat A and B motor carriers are considered an immediate priority for CRs, but only those which have not had a compliance review within the previous year. In many instances, motor carriers are listed on the SafeStat A and B list by virtue of the fact that violations were documented on a recent &e., conducted in the last 12 months) compliance review. Those A and B carriers are monitored to determine ifthey improve their safety performance or if an additional compliance review is warranted because sufficient improvement has not occurred. In addition to CRs on Safestat A and B carriers, FMCSA conducts CRs in response to Congressional inquiries, citizen complaints, significant fatal crashes, and significant hazardous materials incidents. We also conduct CRs to support our hazardous materials permitting program (carriers must have a Satisfactory safety rating to obtain a hazardous materials permit). Moreover, Congress specifically directed FMCSA to require follow-up visits and monitoring of motor carriers with less-than-S&factory ratings in Section 216 of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of I999 (MCSIA). FMCSA implemented a program to comply with this MCSIA requirement in fiscal year 2002. Since that h e , we have conducted more than 12,816 CRs on carriers with previous Conditional ratings and more than 3,822 reviews on carriers with previous Unsatisfactory ratings. I hope you find this information useful. The FMCSA is working to continuously improve our safety oversight and follow-up activities, and we look forward to working with NTSB to fdfdI our mutual transportation safety goals. If you need additional information or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me or Dan Hartman, Associate Adminishator for Enforcement and Program Delivery at 202-366-2525.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 7/28/2006
Response: The Safety Board notes that the FMCSA contracted with the Battelle Memorial Institute to examine the costs and benefits of the Board's recommended revisions to the CFR regarding training and certification for brake adjustment and repair. According to the task order, initiated in February 2005, Battelle will estimate (1) the potential benefits and costs of implementing the Board's recommendation to establish Federal testing and certification requirements for persons who maintain or repair commercial motor vehicle (CMV) brakes, and (2) the time and level of training required for CMV drivers to conduct pretrip inspections of sufficient depth to discover defects or deficiencies that were not corrected by a certified brake mechanic. In recent communications with Board staff, FMCSA staff indicated that they reviewed a draft report and provided comments to Battelle. As Battelle will need to perform additional work to address the comments, the final report is now expected to be available by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2006. This study constitutes a positive step toward meeting the intent of Safety Recommendations H-02-15 and -18. The Board would appreciate receiving a copy of the final report when it becomes available, as well as an update on the agency's plans to address the full intent of the recommendations. As funds become available, the FMCSA also plans to augment its warning communications to motor carriers to include information on brake-related problems. Using the Motor Carrier Management Information System to identify motor carriers with below-average roadside brake inspection outcomes, the FMCSA will send official letters urging those carriers to take action to improve their brake maintenance programs. Brake system safety remains an area of concern for the Safety Board, as evidenced by our investigations of recent accidents occurring in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania; El Cerrito, California; and Osseo, Wisconsin. Monitoring performance and providing motor carriers with an early warning of negative trends may contribute significantly to increased safety on the nation's highways. The planned change of focus for safety communications and implementation of the recommended CFR revisions would satisfy the full intent of these recommendations. Safety Recommendations H-02-15 and -18 have been included in the group of 18 recommendations being considered during the FMCSA's evaluation of its current safety compliance and enforcement programs, an in-depth review known as the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 Initiative. Although the Safety Board applauds the FMCSA's effort to undertake this comprehensive review, it is unaware of any public document outlining specific steps the agency plans to take and milestones it plans to meet to accomplish the review and implement necessary changes. As mentioned in my April 19, 2006, letter to the FMCSA, the Board would appreciate receiving details about how the FMCSA plans to proceed with the CSA 2010 Initiative and satisfactorily address these recommendations. As the final report of the Battelle study is expected by the end of FY 2006 and the FMCSA has planned changes to its motor carrier warning communications, Safety Recommendations H-02-15 and -18 are classified "Open-Acceptable Response" pending application of the results of the Battelle study and revisions of 49 CFR 396.13 and 396.25.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/9/2006
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 5/10/2006 11:12:20 AM MC# 2060234 - From Warren E. Hoemann, Acting Administrator: I am pleased to provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) response to the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) letter dated April 19, 2006, regarding our Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 Initiative. CSA 2010 reflects a new approach to how our Agency carries out its compliance and enforcement activities. Its goal is to enable FMCSA to have contact with more regulated entities through a broader array of compliance interventions that optimize Agency resources. I appreciate NTSB's acknowledgement of this major effort. In response to your request, I have enclosed a listing of major CSA 2010 activities with corresponding timeframes. The dates, of course, are for planning purposes and subject to change pending future budgetary constraints. We are also working with your staff to arrange a CSA 20 10 briefing for Board members. We believe it is crucial that FMCSA carry on a continuing dialogue with our partners and stakeholders as we continue the development of CSA 20 10. As you know, the Agency held a series of listening sessions in 2004 to solicit public input on the conceptual CSA 20 10 operational model. Based on that input, we completed the attributes of a proposed operational model. The CSA 2010 Team is currently working through the process of defining the technical requirements, pilot testing, validation, deployment and implementation issues associated with the draft operational model. We plan to conduct the first of a new series of listening sessions later this year. At that time, we hope to be in a better position to detail specific information. The dates and locations of the listening sessions will be announced in the Federal Register. I hope that NTSB representatives will attend. Additional outreach events are being planned to include announcement of the pilot test and the State partners that will be involved in the pilot. As FMCSA continues this major safety initiative, we will engage and solicit input from our partners and stakeholders. Our Agency has been, and remains, committed to addressing NTSB safety recommendations, either by implementing NTSB's recommended approach or by pursuing alternatives which we believe will achieve the intended result. We are not "deferring action" on any safety recommendations issued to FMCSA, but are working to identify the most effective strategies for enhancing motor carrier safety. We will continue to explore all potential countermeasures, including, but not limited to, CSA 20 10. I hope that you find this information useful. FMCSA looks forward to working with NTSB to fulfill our mutual transportation safety goals and to provide more information about our CSA 2010 initiative at the upcoming Board briefing currently being arranged by our staffs. If you need additional information or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 4/19/2006
Response: Six years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was launched as a new U.S. Department of Transportation agency charged with improving motor carrier safety in our nation. Then Secretary of Transportation, Mr. Rodney E. Slater, announced that the FMCSA's goal was to reduce truck and bus fatalities by 50 percent by 2010. At that time, there were more than 5,300 such fatalities every year. Five years later, the 2004 fatality count was 5,248, only slightly lower and far from approaching the FMCSA's 50 percent reduction goal. In fact, the death count in 2004 was higher than the 2003 count of 5,072, and the large truck fatality rate remained a constant 2.3 deaths per 100 million truck vehicle miles traveled. Today, there are 36 open safety recommendations that the National Transportation Safety Board issued to the FMCSA, 18 of which relate to the oversight of motor carrier operations and enforcement of regulations. The oldest of these recommendations dates back to 1993. The Safety Board is concerned that the FMCSA is not making timely progress toward meeting the intent of these recommendations. A list of the 18 recommendations, including the date and text of the last correspondence, is enclosed. Nine of these recommendations are currently on the Board's Most Wanted list. Two years ago, the FMCSA announced its Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 Initiative, described as a top-to-bottom evaluation of the agency's motor carrier compliance review system. The FMCSA has said that this effort will address 15 of the outstanding recommendations, although the Safety Board has identified an additional 3 recommendations that may also be addressed by the initiative. Although the Board applauds the FMCSA's effort to undertake this comprehensive review, it is unaware of any public document outlining specific steps the agency plans to take and milestones it plans to meet to accomplish the review and implement necessary changes. In the 2 years since the announcement of the initiative, the FMCSA has not provided the Board with any specific information regarding implementation of the initiative or whether it will address any of the 18 open safety recommendations satisfactorily. Currently, an estimated 9 million people hold commercial drivers licenses in the United States, 3 million of whom are active drivers. These drivers operate on an aging highway system already crowded with an ever-increasing number of passenger vehicles. Protecting the safety of all these drivers and their passengers is of paramount concern today. Deferring action on these 18 safety-related recommendations until completion of the initiative in 2010 is not in the best interest of the motoring public and is therefore unacceptable to the Safety Board. The Safety Board would like to receive specific information about how the CSA 2010 Initiative will address the open safety recommendations cited in this letter. Further, the Board would appreciate receiving details about how the FMCSA plans to proceed with the CSA 2010 Initiative, including a proposed timetable and interim steps towards completing the initiative by its deadline. The Board would be pleased to meet with the FMCSA to further discuss the intent of the recommendations and the FMSCA's efforts toward improving the safety of motor carrier operations.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 9/27/2005
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 10/4/2005 11:02:03 AM MC# 2050464 - From Annette Sandberg, Administrator: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shares NTSB's desire to improve the safety of brake systems on commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in operation. However, we continue to question whether the specific rulemaking actions recommended by NTSB would achieve the Board's anticipated improvements in motor carrier safety. To address the training and certification needs identified in H-02-015 and H-02-018, FMCSA initiated a Task Order with Battelle Memorial Institute in February 2005 to (1) estimate the potential benefits and costs of implementing the NTSB's recommendation to establish Federal testing and certification requirements for persons who maintain or repair CMV brakes, and (2) to estimate the time and level of training required for CMV drivers to conduct pretrip inspections of sufficient depth to discover defects or deficiencies that were not corrected by a certified brake mechanic. We enclose a copy of the technical portion of the study proposal and we will share the results of the study with NTSB when they are available. As we described to NTSB staff in the context of SR H-03-01, FMCSA sends warning letters to newly-identified SafeStat Category C carriers that have not had a recent compliance review (CR). These letters are generated monthly based on the monthly SafeStat results. These motor carriers' safety standing is then closely monitored for a 6-month period. There are three possible outcomes: (1) If a motor carrier's SafeStat standing worsens, placing it in an A or B category, the motor carrier is immediately recommended for a CR. (2) If the motor carrier's SafeStat standing still places it in Category C, it is recommended for a CR, as soon as scheduling permits. (3) If the motor carrier's SafeStat score improves and it is no longer in Category C, it is removed from this monitoring process. As resources permit, FMCSA is considering augmenting this communication to increase the focus upon motor carriers with poor brake-related roadside inspection results. We plan to use the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) to identify motor carriers with below- average roadside brake inspection outcomes, and send official letters to these carriers, urging them to take action to improve their brake maintenance programs. FMCSA would also monitor the motor carriers' performance through MCMIS. This approach would provide motor carriers with an "early warning" of brake violation and out-of-service trends, prior to the motor carrier's safety status falling to a SafeStat Category C. Thus, it should give the carrier additional time to address those issues. We have been, and remain, fully committed to improving CMV brake safety. I respectfully request that NTSB reclassify Recommendations H-02-015 and H-02-018 as "Open-Acceptable Response," pending the results of the Battelle Memorial Institute study.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 1/25/2005
Response: In response to Safety Recommendation H-02-15, the FMCSA states that "in many motor carriers' fleets, the task of inspecting vehicles is performed by mechanics rather than by drivers." The Safety Board strongly agrees with the practice of having mechanics inspect vehicles. However, most of the time, trucks are not located at a motor carrier's headquarters, where mechanics would be available. Therefore, it is necessary for drivers to conduct these inspections when the driver is on the road and a mechanic is unavailable. In addition, the Safety Board notes that in the appendix attached to your letter, the manufacturer recommends that "any automatic adjuster that fails to work properly should be repaired by a qualified and experienced technician." This may be true, but the first step in identifying a problem with the brakes will occur during the driver's inspection when he or she has to determine whether an experienced technician needs to be contacted to ensure the continued safe operation of the commercial motor vehicle (CMV); the Board is aware that the FMCSA strongly recommends this action. In addition, not every truck is equipped with an automatic brake adjuster, and those vehicles not so equipped can benefit from a manual adjustment carried out by the driver or other qualified personnel. The only way to determine whether the brakes are out of adjustment is through a pretrip inspection. In accordance with 49 CFR 396.13, before driving a CMV, a driver should be satisfied that the vehicle is in safe operating condition. Because the brakes are vital to the safe operation of a CMV, the Safety Board continues to believe that CMV drivers should be required to conduct pretrip brake inspections. At the December 6 meeting, FMCSA staff indicated that technologies are being explored to diagnose brake problems and provided the Board with a December 2003 report titled "On-Board Sensors for Determining Brake System Performance." A technological solution would be an acceptable alternate means of complying with the recommendation. In the interim, pending a requirement that CMV drivers check brake adjustment during pretrip inspections as recommended, Safety Recommendation H-02-15 remains classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/9/2004
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 8/16/2004 12:17:35 PM MC# 2040510 - Annette Sandberg, Administrator: First, while there is no explicit requirement for a CMV driver to perform a pretrip inspection, 49 CFR 396.13 requires that, before driving a CMV, the driver shall be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition. In many motor carriers' fleets, the task of inspecting vehicles is performed by mechanics rather than by drivers. However, the recommended rulemaking would assign responsibility for brake adjustment to the driver, rather than to the employing motor carrier. Based on previous research conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, FMCSA does not believe problems with brake adjustment could be resolved through rulemakings directed at drivers. In fact, the results of that study indicated that drivers performed less ably than mechanics in a number of brake-related inspection tasks, including determining brake adjustment status. FMCSA continues to believe motor carriers must bear full responsibility for ensuring that their CMVs are in safe and proper operating condition at all times. For that reason, our regulations allow motor carriers to assign brake inspection, repair, and maintenance tasks to any qualified employee, or even to a third party. However, the regulations do not allow motor carriers to place the sole responsibility for safety on its drivers. Moreover, the procedure recommended is not consistent with current manufacturer's guidance. We discuss this in detail in the enclosed Appendix. Finally, requiring a CMV driver to perform a lengthy brake inspection task would have a substantial impact on the driver's on-duty time, which is regulated under 49 CFR Part 395.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 10/30/2003
Response: At a SWAT meeting held on 10/30/03, FMCSA staff pointed out that the percentage of brake adjustment violations has decreased over the last 10 years, as the use of automatic brake adjusters has become more common. In addition, several new brakes have brake sensors, and a report on their utility is expected by the end of December. FMCSA staff indicated that it would be sending a letter on their progress on Safety Recommendation H-02-015

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 7/1/2003
Response: The Safety Board notes the FMCSA's position that existing regulations adequately address this recommendation. The Board is aware that current regulations require commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to be satisfied that their vehicle is in safe operating condition (49 CFR 396.13[a]) before driving it and that specific parts and accessories-including service brakes and hand brake-are in good working order (49 CFR 392.7). The intent of this recommendation was to require a hands-on, rather than a visual, inspection. The Board believes that it is highly unlikely that, under the current regulations, a CMV driver will climb under the vehicle to pull on the push rod and measure the stroke to determine brake adjustment unless required to do so. As a result, the Board encourages the FMCSA to revisit this issue, and to require pretrip inspection procedures for determining brake adjustment. Pending the FMCSA's consideration of the Board's comments, Safety Recommendation H-02-15 is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/3/2003
Response: MC# 2030051: - Annette Sandberg, Administrator: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not require a "pretrip inspection" per se. However, before driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) the driver must be satisfied that the vehicle is in safe operating condition [49 CFR 396.13(a)] and that specific parts and accessories-including service brakes and hand brake-are in good working order [49 CFR 392.71]. Also, we note that many motor carriers require persons other than drivers to "inspect" vehicles. Furthermore, the condition of the brakes in this instance suggested that they had not been properly maintained for some time prior to the day of the crash, thus indicating a longstanding problem rather than a pretrip issue. Automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators are required for certain air-braked vehicles manufactured on or after October 20, 1994 [49 CFR 393.531]. This technology allows drivers and others to determine brake adjustment status more quickly and accurately than in the past. Because it was manufactured prior to the date noted above, the tractor in question was not so equipped. The Federal Highway Administration had considered requiring that motor carriers retrofit automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators to CMVs manufactured prior to October 20, 1994. However, comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking indicated potential safety concerns from improperly designed retrofits, so the agency decided against such an approach. (These comments are summarized in the enclosed Federal Register, Volume 60, Number 172.) Based on the discussion at its September 4, 2002, board meeting, we note that NTSB did not recommend a requirement to retrofit older vehicles with such equipment. In summary, we believe that our existing regulations adequately address this recommendation.