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FMCSA to broaden Crash Preventability Determination Program


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has plans to expand the federal program through which regulated motor carriers challenge the preventability of accidents in which their drivers are involved. According to its notice published on April 12, 2023, the FMCSA proposes to broaden its Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP), such that more types of accidents will be eligible for a preventability ruling.


The agency first stood up the CPDP in May 2020, following industry concerns about all crashes impacting motor carriers' Safety Measurement System scores, regardless of fault. In its original pilot form, the CPDP only considered a handful of crash types “eligible” for preventability determination. In other words, only those types of crashes that were very clearly not the commercial driver’s fault were eligible for consideration.


In its current form, the CPDP accepts 16 specific crash types as eligible for preventability consideration. They are:


Struck in the Rear type of crash when the CMV was struck:

  1. in the rear; or

  2. on the side at the rear.

Wrong Direction or Illegal Turns type of crash when the CMV was struck:

  1. by a motorist driving in the wrong direction; or

  2. by another motorist in a crash when a driver was operating in the wrong direction; or by a vehicle that was making a U-turn or illegal turn.

Parked or Legally Stopped type of crash when the CMV was struck:

  1. while legally stopped at a traffic control device (e.g., stop sign, red light, or yield) or while parked, including while the vehicle was unattended.

Failure of the other vehicle to Stop type of crash when the CMV was struck:

  1. by a vehicle that did not stop or slow in traffic; or

  2. by a vehicle that failed to stop at a traffic control device.

Under the Influence type of crash when the CMV was struck:

  1. by an individual under the influence (or related violation, such as operating while intoxicated), according to the legal standard of the jurisdiction where the crash occurred; or

  2. by another motorist in a crash where an individual was under the influence (or related violation such as operating while intoxicated), according to the legal standard of the jurisdiction where the crash occurred.

Medical Issues, Falling Asleep or Distracted Driving type of crash when the CMV was struck:

  1. by a driver who experienced a medical issue that contributed to the crash; or

  2. by a driver who admitted falling asleep or admitted distracted driving (e.g., cellphone, global positioning system (GPS), passengers, other).

Cargo/Equipment/Debris or Infrastructure Failure type of crash when the CMV:

  1. was struck by cargo, equipment, or debris (e.g., fallen rock, fallen trees, unidentifiable items on the road), or a crash resulting from an infrastructure failure. Animal Strike type of crash when the CMV:

  2. struck an animal

Suicide type of crash when the CMV:

  1. struck an individual committing or attempting to commit suicide

Rare or Unusual type of crash when the CMV:

  1. Was involved in a crash type that seldom occurs and does not meet another eligible crash type (e.g., non-motorist involved crashes, being struck by an airplane or skydiver or being struck by a deceased driver).

According to FMCSA data, between May 1, 2020, and December 30, 2022, the industry has submitted nearly 40,000 CPDP preventability determination requests through the agency’s DataQs system. Approximately 72.5% of those requests were “eligible,” meaning they fit within the 16 enumerated crash types. And of the eligible crashes submitted, 96% were deemed non-preventable on the part of the commercial driver.


Proposed Changes


Based on the FMCSA’s “experiences with the crash types and its reviews of crash eligibility,” the agency is now proposing to modify existing CPDP crash types to broaden eligibility, removing the distinction between direct and indirect strikes, and differentiating some types for improved reporting and use of the data to identify ways to reduce crashes involving non-motorists. It is also proposing to add four new eligible crash types.


More specifically, the agency is proposing to revise existing eligible crash types to read as follows:


  1. CMV was struck because another motorist was driving in the wrong direction

  2. CMV was struck because another motorist was making a U-turn or illegal turn

  3. CMV was struck because another motorist did not stop or slow in traffic

  4. CMV was struck because another motorist failed to stop at a traffic control device

  5. CMV was struck because another individual was under the influence (or related violation, such as operating while intoxicated), according to the legal standard of the jurisdiction where the crash occurred

  6. CMV was struck because another motorist experienced a medical issue which contributed to the crash

  7. CMV was struck because another motorist fell asleep

  8. CMV was struck because another motorist was distracted (e.g., cellphone, GPS, passengers, other)

  9. CMV was struck by cargo, equipment, or debris (e.g., fallen rock, fallen trees, unidentifiable items in the road);

  10. CMV crash was a result of an infrastructure failure

According to FMCSA, these revisions would “allow more crashes to be submitted for consideration. Additionally, FMCSA proposes the following revised crash type:

  1. CMV was involved in a crash with a non-motorist.

This change would create a separate type for these events. These crashes are currently the predominant type submitted in the Rare and Unusual crash type. This change will allow the Agency to distinguish these events and use the information to identify ways to reduce the increasing number of non-motorist crashes in alignment with the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy objectives of Safer People and Safer Roads.

Lastly, FMCSA plans to add these additional four crash types to the program:

  1. CMV was struck on the side by a motorist operating in the same direction. Currently, the crash type is limited to side strikes at the very rear of the vehicle (e.g., 5:00 and 7:00 points of impact).

  2. CMV was struck because another motorist was entering the roadway from a private driveway or parking lot.

  3. CMV was struck because another motorist lost control of their vehicle. FMCSA reviewed many PARs that included this information but were ineligible for the program under the current crash types.

  4. Any other type of crash involving a CMV where a video demonstrates the sequence of events of the crash.

Thus, the full universe of eligible crashes will be:


  1. CMV was struck in the rear by a motorist

  2. CMV was struck on the side at the rear by a motorist

  3. CMV was struck while legally stopped at a traffic control device or parked, including while the vehicle was unattended

  4. CMV was struck because another motorist was driving in the wrong direction

  5. CMV was struck because another motorist was making a U-turn or illegal turn

  6. CMV was struck because another motorist did not stop or slow in traffic.

  7. CMV was struck because another motorist failed to stop at a traffic control device

  8. CMV was struck because another individual was under the influence (or related violation, such as operating while intoxicated), according to the legal standard of the jurisdiction where the crash occurred

  9. CMV was struck because another motorist experienced a medical issue which contributed to the crash

  10. CMV was struck because another motorist fell asleep

  11. CMV was struck because another motorist was distracted (e.g., cellphone, GPS, passengers, other)

  12. CMV was struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle, or debris (e.g., fallen rock, fallen trees, unidentifiable items in the road);

  13. CMV crash was a result of an infrastructure failure

  14. CMV struck an animal

  15. CMV struck an individual committing or attempting to commit suicide

  16. CMV was struck on the side by a motorist operating in the same direction as CMV

  17. CMV was struck because another motorist was entering the roadway from a private driveway or parking lot

  18. CMV was struck because another motorist lost control of the vehicle

  19. CMV was involved in a crash with a non-motorist

  20. CMV was involved in a crash type that seldom occurs and does not meet another eligible crash type (e.g., being struck by an airplane or skydiver or being struck by a deceased driver in another vehicle)

  21. Any other type of crash where a CMV was involved and a video demonstrates the sequence of events of the crash.

Importantly, the agency explains in its notice that “the submission of videos could allow it to review crashes that are not in the 21 other types.


Conclusion

FMCSA’s proposed revisions to its CPDP are intended to broaden the program and allow carriers to submit additional crash types for preventability determinations. Because those determinations can have a positive impact on the carriers’ SMS scores, this change will likely be viewed by the industry as a positive one. The FMCSA is accepting comments on this proposal through mid-June, 2023 in docket number FMCSA-2022-0233. The proposed changes would not be retroactive and will not take effect until the FMCSA considers any comments received.


If you need assistance filing a preventability determination request under the CPDP, feel free to contact us.


About Trucksafe Consulting, LLC: Trucksafe Consulting is a full-service DOT regulatory compliance consulting and training service. We help carriers develop, implement, and improve their safety programs, through personalized services, industry-leading training, and a library of educational content. Trucksafe also hosts a monthly live show on its various social media channels called Trucksafe LIVE! to discuss hot-button issues impacting highway transportation. Trucksafe is owned and operated by Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, transportation attorneys who have assisted some of the nation’s leading fleets to develop and maintain cutting-edge safety programs. You can learn more about Trucksafe online at www.trucksafe.com and by following Trucksafe on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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