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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-02-017
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: During compliance reviews, rate companies as unsatisfactory in the vehicle factor category if the mechanics and drivers responsible for maintaining brake systems are not qualified brake inspectors.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate 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: 9/15/2015
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 9/15/2015
Response: We are pleased that you recently improved your carrier review and enforcement efforts using information gathered from enhanced investigative and data review techniques. We are also encouraged by your efforts to continuously improve the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program and the imminent publication of the Safety Fitness Determination notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). Our intent in issuing Safety Recommendations H-02-17 and 18 was to ensure that brake system maintenance and inspections are performed by qualified persons. Although you have not required training or established an unsatisfactory vehicle rating as recommended, the program changes you have made establish more vigilant enforcement actions and improve analytical processes, allowing your investigators to look at personnel qualifications, determine whether a carrier’s brake maintenance and inspection program is adequate, and take appropriate enforcement action when inadequacies are found. These efforts constitute an acceptable alternate means of addressing Safety Recommendations H-02-17 and 18, which are classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.

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: 8/11/2006
Response: The Safety Board notes that the FMCSA's current policy regarding brake maintenance and inspection is that motor carriers must adhere to the requirements of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 396.25. Specifically, motor carriers are required to ensure that all inspections, maintenance, repairs, or service to the brakes of its commercial motor vehicles are performed in compliance with the requirements in Section 396.25(c) and that employees must meet minimum brake inspector qualifications to make the repairs. The Board understands that under current FMCSA policy, for motor carriers violating this section, inspectors can, but are not required to, designate this a "critical" violation. The Board notes that the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is examining the FMCSA's list of acute and critical violations to determine whether a violation of Section 396.25(c) should be included in the list of critical violations. Through communications with FMCSA staff, Board staff has learned that the target date for completion of the Volpe Center's study is May 2007. The Board would appreciate receiving a confirmation of the study's expected completion date and an update on how the FMCSA plans to use the information to address the intent of this recommendation-ensuring that brake system maintenance is performed by qualified individuals. Safety Recommendation H-02-17 has 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. As I Stated in my April 19, 2006 letter on the CSA 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. Improving the safety of motor carrier operations is one of the issue areas on the Board's list of Most Wanted safety improvements, and the Board looks forward to receiving updates on the progress of the CSA Initiative and the actions the FMCSA plans to take to satisfactorily address this safety recommendation. The Safety Board understands that the FMCSA has initiated comprehensive reviews of its acute and critical violations list and of its enforcement and compliance activities. Pending completion of the Volpe Center's study, additions to the FMCSA's list of critical violations, and rulemaking or comparable action to accomplish the recommended action, Safety Recommendation H-02-17 is classifiedOPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE. The Board encourages the FMCSA to move forward rapidly with its evaluation and rulemaking relating to the CSA 2010 Initiative as a positive step towards achieving safer motor carrier operations on our nation's highways. Member Hersman did not concur with the "Open-Acceptable Response" classification for Safety Recommendation H-02-17, stating that the recommendation should be "Open-Unacceptable Response." Member Hersman stated that FMCSA's plan to complete a Volpe Center study before considering any changes to the way it responds to compliance reviews delays unnecessarily implementation of this straightforward recommendation.

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 Administration's (FMCSA) response to the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) questions from our June 15, 2006, Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative briefing. Specifically, you asked how many motor carriers are included on our Safety Status Measurement System ("SafeStat) A and B Lists annually, and how many of these carriers are subject to a Compliance Review (CR) annually. The FMCSA's SafeStat system is updated monthly, rather than annually, to identify new high risk carriers in a timely manner and to reflect improve 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 if they 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-Satisfactory ratings in Section 216 of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA). FMCSA implemented a program to comply with this MCSIA requirement in fiscal year 2002. Since that he, 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 fulfill our mutual transportation safety goals. If you need additional information or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me or Dan Hartman, Associate Administrator for Enforcement and Program Delivery at 202-366-2525.

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: 9/21/2005
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 9/28/2005 2:00:30 PM MC# 2050456: - From Annette Sandberg, Administrator: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires motor carriers to ensure that all inspections, maintenance, repairs or service to the brakes of its commercial motor vehicles are performed in compliance with the requirements in Section 396.25 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). These regulations further state that employees must meet minimum brake inspector qualifications to make the repairs. FMCSA’s current policy is that motor camers that allow employees to perform these tasks without meeting the minimum standard would be in violation of Section 396.25© of the FMCSRs, and this violation could constitute a "critical" violation. We believe this violation could meet the definition of critical because brakes that work properly are essential to preventing crashes, and failure to properly maintain brakes may be indicative of a breakdown in a carrier’s management controls. FMCSA has initiated a comprehensive examination of our current list of acute and critical violations, which is being performed by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. This examination will determine whether a violation of Section 396.25© should be added to the Agency’s list of critical violations. In addition, FMCSA has embarked on an initiative entitled "Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010." This effort aims to evaluate the effectiveness of FMCSA’s current safety compliance and enforcement programs, and identify better methods of achieving a crash-free environment. FMCSA held listening sessions throughout the United States regarding this initiativc. And posted the results on FMCSA’s Web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetysecurity/csalisteningsessions.htm. Based on the feedback FMCSA received, the Agency is continuing with its CSA 2010 project and is reviewing its entire compliance and enforcement program. This review includes, but is not limited to, the effectiveness of ratings for vehicle factors and other safety indicators. Given the early stage of the CSA 2010 project, it is too soon to determine what specific changes in the safety rating process may result. However, recommendation H-02-017 and other NTSB input will be important factors the Agency will take into account as we develop a more effective operational model for FMCSA’s enforcement and compliance activities. FMCSA has been, and remains, fully committed to improving commercial motor vehicle brake safety. Based on your letter and our discussion with your staff, I believe our current proposal meets the intent of the recommendation. I respectfully request that NTSB reclassify Recommendation H-02-017 as "Open--Acceptable Response," pending the completion of the study and appropriate follow-up actions.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 12/15/2004
Response: The Safety Board has reviewed the memorandum that the FMCSA sent to its safety investigators and division and field administrators on March 9, 2004, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that mechanics and drivers responsible for maintaining brake systems are qualified brake inspectors. The Board notes the FMCSA's concern that basing a motor carrier's safety rating on one component-the vehicle component-would not yield a fair determination of the carrier's overall safety fitness. However, the Board continues to believe in the importance of this recommendation, considering that brake failures have dire consequences for traffic safety. The Safety Board is aware that the FMCSA published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in 1998 that was intended to lead to a more performance-based rating system. The Board also understands from previous correspondence that this recommendation will be factored into the FMCSA's plans as it proceeds to the next step in issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) this fall. We would consider the FMCSA's response acceptable if the NPRM and final rule address the brake mechanic's qualifications. Pending completion of these actions, Safety Recommendation H-02-17 is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/28/2004
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 6/9/2004 10:20:14 AM MC# 2040288 - From Annette M. Sandberg, Administrator: As discussed with NTSB staff at the October 30, 2003, Safety With A Team meeting, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does require motor carriers to ensure that all inspections, maintenance, service, and repairs are performed by qualified brake inspectors. Enforcement action may be taken against carriers failing to comply with this requirement, Because our safety fitness rating methodology is based on the overall performance (e.g., vehicle, driver, accident) of a motor carrier during a compliance review, we do not take the specific approach recommended by NTSB. We are concerned that basing the rating on only one single component of the carrier's operation-the vehicle portion-would not yield a fair determination of the carrier's overall safety fitness, and hence, would not result in increased effectiveness. FMCSA's investigators do review carrier profiles prior to each and every compliance review. As a matter of standard practice, if the profile indicates evidence of brake problems, the investigator focuses his or her investigation on the inspection and maintenance of the vehicles, including the qualifications of brake inspectors (copy of March 9 policy memo enclosed).

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 11/6/2003
Response: The FMCSA currently has regulations for qualified brake inspectors and will send a letter updating the regulations for qualified brake inspectors.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 10/30/2003
Response: At a SWAT meeting held on 10/30/03, FMCSA staff reported that it currently has regulations for qualified brake inspectors and would be sending a letter on their progress on Safety Recommendation H-02-17.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 7/1/2003
Response: The Safety Board notes that the vehicle factor category of compliance reviews is currently based on the results of physical inspections of CMVs, rather than safety oversight of CMV maintenance. The Board also notes that many motor carriers are small firms that do not have full-time mechanics on staff. However, the Board encourages the FMCSA to require that each motor carrier who receives a satisfactory rating in the vehicle factor category does so in part because the persons maintaining its vehicles are qualified brake inspectors regardless of whether the maintenance is performed in-house or through third parties. Pending an update on activity that satisfies the recommendation, Safety Recommendation H-02-17 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/3/2003
Response: MC# 2030051: - From Annette Sandberg, Administrator: The "vehicle" factor computation is based on the results of physical inspections of CMVs, rather than the safety oversight of CMV maintenance and repair activities. Many motor carriers are small firms that do not have full-time mechanics on staff. It is a common practice for them to use third parties to perform their CMV maintenance activities. However, it remains the motor carrier's responsibility to ensure that its vehicles are properly maintained, and that qualified persons are doing this work. From this perspective, FMCSA will review its process of assessing motor carriers' "safety managcmcnt control" activities that influence that factor of a motor carrier's safety rating.