The designation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crash has serious implications. If the event appears as preventable, it impacts a motor carrier’s CSA Crash Indicator BASIC score and Accident Factor in the event of a compliance review.
Realizing some crashes are beyond a CMV driver’s control, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created its Crash Preventability Program. In this program, the status of the crash can be challenged by motor carriers, drivers, or other parties by submitting a Request for Data Review (RDR) through the agency’s DataQs portal.
The FMCSA identifies several crash types as non-preventable. CMV crashes meeting the specific criteria and occurring on or after August 1, 2019, are eligible for consideration.
An eligible CMV crash involves being struck:
- In the rear or side at the rear;
- By a motorist driving in the wrong direction or making a U-turn or illegal turn;
- When legally stopped at a traffic control device or parked;
- By a vehicle failing to stop or slow in traffic or stop at a traffic control device;
- By a driver operating a motor vehicle under the influence, according to state law, or by another motorist who was involved in such a crash;
- By a driver who experienced a medical issue contributing to the crash;
- By a driver who admitted falling asleep or being distracted;
- By cargo, equipment, or debris, or as the result of an infrastructure failure;
- By an animal; or
- By an individual committing or attempting to commit suicide.
Another eligible crash category involves accidents that seldom occur and don’t meet another eligible crash type, such as being struck by an airplane or skydiver or being struck by a deceased driver.
Be Prepared to Prove Your Case
When using DataQs to challenge the preventability of a crash, the burden of proof is on the RDR submitter. The party must provide compelling evidence that the crash meets the criteria.
The RDR must be accompanied by a police accident report. For fatal crashes, the request must include drug and alcohol test results or explain why a test was not performed.
Submitters are encouraged to provide other supporting documents with their request, including videos, photographs, and court documents.
If the crash does not meet one of the eligible crash types, the RDR will be closed.
When the RDR is Successful
If a crash is deemed non-preventable, the FMCSA will:
- Remove the crash from the carrier’s Crash Indictor calculations and indicate in the Safety Management System that the crash was not preventable; and
- Add a note to the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to indicate that the crash was not preventable, reducing the odds that the driver involved wouldn’t be hired due to crash history.
Note that the crash must remain on the motor carrier’s accident register even though it is considered non-preventable. In the event of an audit, the motor carrier would alert the investigator that the specific crash was determined to be non-preventable, so it is not included in the accident rate.
About the Author: Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver qualification.