Federal Government, Trucking Group Disagree Over Safety Recommendations

The National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) announced last summer that it disagrees with safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The safety recommendations in question were published in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report “Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that Resulted in Injuries and Deaths.” In the report, NTSB said it found single-unit trucks are involved in a disproportionate share of multi-vehicle crashes and vehicle occupant deaths in relation to the number of registered vehicles on the road.

NTSB recommended in the report that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration look into expanding the commercial driver’s licensing requirement to lower truck weight classes.

However, NAFA Executive Director Phillip Russo disputed the finding that drivers of single-unit trucks in fatal crashes were more likely to have invalid licenses than drivers of tractor-trailers involved in the same crashes.

“While this may be true for some trucks, it is not relevant to drivers of single-unit trucks in managed fleets,” Russo said. “For many reasons, including insurance, fleets are scrupulous about ensuring that drivers are properly licensed.”

NTSB issued nine total recommendations to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, four to FMCSA, two to the U.S. Transportation Department, and one to the Federal Highway Administration.

Recommendation areas include:

  1. Requiring modifications to enhance the ability of drivers of single-unit trucks to detect cyclists and pedestrians
  2. Side and rear underride protection systems for newly manufactured single-unit trucks
  3. Improving federal and state data on large truck crashes
  4. Examining the frequency and consequences of single-unit truck drivers operating with an invalid license
  5. Conspicuity treatments on the sides and rears of single-unit trucks

In a letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, Russo asked that NAFA be included as a stakeholder during the agency’s analysis and assessment period. In a letter to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NAFA said its own Safety Advisory Council would be making a detailed review of the NTSB recommendations.

NAFA also disagreed with the suggestion of requiring a commercial driver’s license to operate a single-unit truck with a gross weight rating less than 26,001 pounds.

“We believe that a CDL requirement for all single-unit trucks would be disproportionate to the risks associated with single-unit truck safety in the fleet environment,” Russo said.

“Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that Resulted in Injuries and Deaths” was the product of a five-year study. The study showed that single-unit trucks comprise 3 percent of registered motor vehicles and 4 percent of miles traveled, but they account for 9 percent of fatalities among passenger vehicle occupants in multi-vehicle crashes.

NAFA is a nonprofit association for those who manage fleets of sedans, public safety vehicles, military and off-road equipment, trucks, and buses of all types and sizes. NAFA members are in charge of maintenance, fueling, risk management, specification, and acquisition of more than 3.7 million vehicles, including more than 1.2 million trucks; NAFA members handle over 420,000 medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks, totaling more than $20 billion in assets. The organization has helped fleet managers improve their fleets and reach their professional goals since 1957.