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On June 25, 2015, about 7:10 p.m., a 2007 Peterbilt truck-tractor in combination with a 2005 Great Dane semitrailer, operated by Cool Runnings Express, Inc., was traveling northbound in the center lane of Interstate 75, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, when the driver did not respond to the slow-moving traffic ahead and collided with the rear of a 2010 Toyota Prius. Traffic had slowed near milepost 11.7 because of road construction and a work zone lane closure at milepost 12. The truck-tractor continued forward and collided with seven additional vehicles, forcing them into subsequent collisions. Of the 18 vehicle occupants, six died and four were injured. A postcrash fire consumed one vehicle. The truck driver’s trip began earlier that day, about 5:16 a.m., in Haines City, Florida. His destination was the carrier terminal in London, Kentucky.
TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Modify 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 391.23(a) to include the requirements described in 49 CFR 391.25(b)(2); that is, to specify that the motor carrier must (1) consider the driver’s crash record; (2) consider any evidence that the driver has violated laws governing the operation of motor vehicles; and (3) give great weight to violations such as speeding, reckless driving, and operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs that indicate the driver has exhibited a disregard for public safety.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
Chattanooga, TN, United States
Preliminary Report, Highway Accident Report HWY15MH009
Multivehicle Work Zone Crash on Interstate 75
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FMCSA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), “Qualification of Drivers, Employment Application,” published at 84 Federal Register 46, March 8, 2019. The FMCSA is requesting public comment on the value of, and need for, the requirement to have prospective drivers complete an employment application. The agency is also seeking comment on ways this requirement could be changed to reduce the associated paperwork burdens for drivers and motor carriers, including—but not limited to—the complete elimination of the requirement. For the reasons given below, the NTSB encourages the FMCSA to retain the requirement for an application for employment, including the 10 years of employment history. The NTSB has long supported complete and proper background investigations as one of the essential building blocks of a strong safety culture by motor carriers. The application and processes required by 49 CFR 391.21 are a critical step in determining the safety performance and background of applicants. A multivehicle crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the most recent NTSB investigation addressing the safe hiring of commercial drivers.6 In this 2015 investigation, the NTSB highlighted the inadequacy of driver license records and background checks. The commonwealth of Kentucky—the home base for the motor carrier—is one of only two US jurisdictions that do not provide crash data in their 3-year driver license records. Consequently, the carrier did not have crash data for the truck driver, limiting its ability to assess his safety performance and potential risk prior to a hiring action. As a result of this investigation, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations H-16-9, -10, and -11 to the FMCSA, as specified below: requirements described in 49 CFR 391.25(b)(2); that is, to specify that the motor carrier must (1) consider the driver’s crash record; (2) consider any evidence that the driver has violated laws governing the operation of motor vehicles; and (3) give great weight to violations—such as speeding, reckless driving, and operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs—that indicate the driver has exhibited a disregard for public safety. (H-16-9) Evaluate motor carrier use of, and perspectives on, your Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), and identify and address barriers affecting the use of the PSP, examining issues such as the value, accuracy, and timeliness of the information, and the cost of, and incentives for, using the program. (H-16-10) Collect and publish best practices for pre-employment investigations and inquiries within the trucking industry. (H-16-11) Safety Recommendation H-16-9 is classified “Closed—Unacceptable Action,” because the FMCSA indicated that it had reconsidered its earlier intention (in 2017) to add this action to the rulemaking agenda due to its determination of the infeasibility of enforcement and limited safety benefit. Safety Recommendations H-16-10 and -11 are classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” Collectively, these NTSB recommendations emphasize the criticality of reviewing and verifying driver applicant 10-year employment history and driving records to identify individual risk factors during the hiring process.
We are disappointed that you reconsidered your position on this recommendation and will no longer seek to add the recommended modification to your rulemaking agenda. Because you intend to take no further action on Safety Recommendation H-16-9, it is classified CLOSED--UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Michael J. Jordon, Management and Program Analyst, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: On December 13, 2017, representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met to discuss the status of 7 safety recommendations. This memorandum communicates the status updates discussed. Current Classification: Open - Acceptable Response Requested Classification: Closed • FMCSA has reconsidered its previous position to promulgate rulemaking to modify the language found in 49 CFR 391.23(a). • FMCSA will no longer seek to add the recommended action to the rulemaking agenda. FMCSA’s decision is based on further review and internal discussion about the feasibility of enforcement and assessing the limited safety benefit to making such a change to the regulatory language. • 49 CFR 391.23(a) Investigation and Inquiries, reads as follows: o “Except as provided in subpart G of this part, each motor carrier shall make the following investigations and inquiries with respect to each driver it employs, other than a person who has been a regularly employed driver of the motor carrier for a continuous period which began before January 1, 1971: ? (1) An inquiry to each State where the driver held or holds a motor vehicle operator's license or permit during the preceding 3 years to obtain that driver's motor vehicle record. ? (2) An investigation of the driver's safety performance history with Department of Transportation regulated employers during the preceding three years.” • 49 CFR 391.25(b)(2) Annual Inquiry and Review of Driving Record, reads as follows: o “The motor carrier must consider the driver's accident record and any evidence that the driver has violated laws governing the operation of motor vehicles, and must give great weight to violations, such as speeding, reckless driving, and operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that indicate that the driver has exhibited a disregard for the safety of the public.” • FMCSA requires that motor carriers investigate each driver it employs under 49 CFR 391.23(a). Consideration of the information obtained during an investigation is inherently implied. FMCSA’s assessment of modifying that regulatory language to include the language found in 49 CFR 391.25(b)(2) that motor carriers must ‘consider’ and ‘give great weight’ to information gathered through its investigation would provide very limited safety benefit and be difficult to prove a violation exists and enforce such a violation. • FMCSA requests NTSB close safety recommendation H-16-009.
We note that you are developing rulemaking to align the motor carrier requirements at 49 CFR 391.23(a) and 49 CFR 391.25(b)(2). Pending publication of a final rule that addresses the recommended action, Safety Recommendation H-16-9 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Daphne Y. Jefferson, Deputy Administrator: FMCSA believes that the requirement for motor carriers to obtain the driving record for prospective drivers are important rules because they place a responsibility on employers to be knowledgeable about the individuals they are hiring and continue to employ to drive commercial motor vehicles. Therefore, FMCSA will promulgate rulemaking to align the requirements for motor carriers in 49 CFR 391.23(a) and 49 CFR 391.25(b)(2). FMCSA requests the NTSB classify safety recommendation H-16-009 as "Open-Acceptable Response."
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