The United Motor Coach Association's concerns about the federal compliance scoring system for motor carriers were validated by a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, according to the association. The report referred to the ad hoc nature of the current Safety Measurement System (SMS) employed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and recommended that the agency adopt "a more statistically principled approach" that can be empirically validated.

"The report confirms many of UMA's concerns relating to disparities contained in the SMS," said UMA President/CEO Stacy Tetschner. "UMA has been particularly concerned about how small fleet operators can be adversely affected."

The report states that "...much of what is now done is ad hoc and based on subject-matter expertise that has not been sufficiently empirically validated. This argues for FMCSA adopting a more statistically principled approach that can include the expert opinion that is implicit in SMS in a natural way."

Another key recommendation is for FMCSA to develop a new and improved approach over the next two years; and, when proven to be effective, replace SMS in a manner akin to the way SMS replaced the old SafeStat program.

The report left open the issue of crash accountability, which remains a top concern for UMA members. However, the report recommends capturing better crash and operations data, such as vehicle miles traveled, a practice UMA has suggested may help differentiated carriers. Typical scheduled service companies often travel five times the miles of a typical charter bus annually.

"We are grateful to Congress and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine panel that worked so diligently to prepare this report," said Tetschner. "This will report will help FMCSA identify commercial motor vehicle carriers that require intervention more accurately and fairly. At the end of the day, an improved SMS will save lives; a goal we all share. "

The UMA advocated for the review of SMS that was written into the FAST Act of 2015, mandating a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to evaluate SMS.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. Their work helps to shape public policy and inform public opinion.

The UMA has once again teamed up with BusCon to create a training track at this year's event in Indianapolis Sept. 11 to 13. For more information, click here.

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