Heavy Duty Trucking

AUG 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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t 16 HDT • AUGUST 2014 www.truckinginfo.com WASHINGTONreport A group of small carriers and brokers lost their legal challenge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's CSA safety enforcement program. In a July ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the suit by the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation. The group had charged that the agency's Pow- erPoint presentation on CSA was in effect "an astonishing" change in policy, said Chief Judge Merrick Garland. "We are not astonished," Garland wrote in the court's opinion. "In our view – and the agency's – the PowerPoint presentations do nothing more than explain the (CSA) Safety Measurement Sys- tem." Moreover, the judge continued, the challenge lacks standing because it came too late after the agency implemented SMS. At issue was ASECTT's contention that the agency is administering CSA in a way that "(depu- tizes) the shipper and broker community with the Appeals court rejects broker suit against CSA responsibility of making self-enforced safety fitness determinations under penalty of vicarious liability," said ASECTT President Tom Sanderson when the suit was filed. Among other problems, the group charged that the PowerPoint presentation amounted to a change in agency policy because it promulgated SMS as a safety fitness determination. But this contention is contradicted by the agency's disclaimer that SMS is not intended to imply a safety rating, Garland wrote. "We therefore see no basis for the petitioners' claim that FMCSA used the PowerPoint presentations to effectively promulgate SMS as a new safety fitness determination standard." Sanderson later said that ASECTT is not likely to appeal. "We fought a good fight and will continue to publish our research, write articles, and speak at conferences about the many failings of CSA/SMS, but the legal challenge, at least on this aspect of CSA, is done," Sanderson said. The National High- way Traffic Safety Ad- ministration is going to review its standards for rear underride guards. In response to a petition by the Truck Safety Coalition, the agency will post advance notice of a proposal concern- ing on rear guards for single unit trucks, and a separate proposal on guards for trailers and semitrailers. The agency also said it will consider the coali- tion's request to improve side guards and front override guards, and post a decision later. The proposals will not necessarily lead to new rules, the agency said. It said the coalition's petition on rear guards "merits further consideration." The coalition told the agency that trucks would be safer if U.S. rear underride standards were the same as Cana- dian standards. It said U.S. rear guards should be energy-absorbent and mounted 16 inches from the ground with vertical supports 18 inches from the side edges. The agency said in its notice that Canada requires guards to meet higher strength and energy-absorbing standards than the U.S. has. It also said that research indicates stronger guards might improve safety. NHTSA to review underride guard requirements The Manac dry van outperformed other trailers in under- ride testing done last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 8 PHOTO: IIHS

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