Currently, if a motor carrier is involved in an accident where there is no fault on its behalf in a crash situation, it still has the same CSA scoring impact as at-fault crashes. This has been a source of frustration for fleet owners trying to get their scores corrected for not causing or having any fault in accidents.
In an effort to remedy the situation, the FMCSA is considering on implementing a weighted variable system allowing for differential scoring based on circumstance. Moving forward if a carrier believes it was not at fault in a crash it can mail a copy of the police report to the DataQs. These reports will then go to a team of specialists who will analyze the report for accountability. It will be important for the motor carrier to investigate and document its basis for contesting liability or fault.
Although a vast improvement than the current system, the new process is not without its criticisms. Steve Keppler, executive director of the CVSA points out, “crash investigations are many times very subjective. The officer on the scene is seeing things and talking to people, and once that information leaves the scene you have someone else reviewing it who was not there, based on what the investigating officer said. It creates problems if the reviewer makes a determination on accountability that is different than the officer’s determination. On top of that, insurance companies do their own investigations, which might lead to conclusions that are different than either the officer’s or the reviewers. What do you do with that?”
We have an answer for that. Use all of the information that is available and make a decision based upon facts, data and law. Do not rely on the police officer who is making an instant decision on fault without all of the relevant information. We urge carriers to document and contest “at fault” determinations by on scene police officers.
Despite criticisms of the new process, it is undoubtedly positive in the eyes of fleet owners. The hope is to do away with many frustrating hours on the behalf of fleet owners trying to challenge these accidents being assessed as a fault and negatively impacting CSA scores.