FMCSA Opens New Unsafe Commercial Fleet Rule for Comment



The FMCSA has recently proposed a major change that will identify unsafe commercial vehicle fleets. The rule will undergo significant scrutiny in the next month and the public is invited to comment on the proposal. In the wake of stepped up enforcement by the FMCSA, it is important for all commercial fleet operators to understand the ramifications of these changes.

The Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), to be published in the Federal Register, would update FMCSA’s safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety data from inspections, along with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports, to determine a motor carrier’s overall safety fitness on a monthly basis.

The proposed SFD rule would replace the current three-tier federal rating system with a single determination of “unfit.” This means the carrier either improves or ceases operations. 

Once finalized, the SFD rule will permit FMCSA to assess the safety fitness of approximately 75,000 companies a month. By comparison, the agency is only able to investigate 15,000 motor carriers annually – with less than half of those companies receiving a safety rating.

The proposed methodology would determine when a carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles in or affecting interstate commerce based on:

  1. Carrier's performance in relation to a fixed failure threshold established in the rule for five of the agency's Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)
  2. Investigation rules
  3. A combination of on-road safety data and investigation information.

The proposed rule further incorporates rigorous data sufficiency standards and would require that a significant pattern of non-compliance be documented in order for a carrier to fail a BASIC.

FMCSA estimates that under this proposal, less than 300 motor carriers each year would be proposed as “unfit” solely as a result of on-road safety violations. Further, the agency’s analysis has shown that the carriers identified through this on-road safety data have crash rates of almost four times the national average. 

FMCSA encourages the public to review the NPRM and to submit comments and evidentiary materials to the docket following its publication in the Federal Register. The public comment period will be open for 60 days. FMCSA will also provide a reply comment period allowing for an additional 30 days for commenters to respond to the initial comments. 

For more information on FMCSA’s Safety Fitness Determination proposed rule, including a full copy of the NPRM, an instructional webinar, and a Safety Fitness Determination Calculator, visit

To comment on the rule once it is published in the Federal Register, please use and docket number FMCSA-2015-0001.

  • Initial comments will be due March 31, 2016. Response comments will be accepted for an additional 30 days.

Talk to a HUB Transportation advisor
to walk through the details of how this new ruling could affect your fleet and commercial truck insurance. 

Steven Bojan, Vice President- HUB International's Fleet Risk Services for commercial truck insurance, advises on fleet safety, driver and management best practices and regulatory compliance.