Transportation, Distribution & Logistics Alert: Reducing Accident Liability Has a Lot to Do with Your Policies By Schaun D. Henry

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Despite all of your safety efforts, the sheer number of miles logged by your drivers means that they are likely to have an accident at some point. The savvy employer will want to have an eye on reducing the likelihood of liability in such cases. You will recall that, until 1997, The Safe Stat Accident Safety Evaluation Area (“Safe Stat”) included preventability in assessing motor carrier accidents. Beginning in March 1997, changes in the compliance review methodology removed preventability from the factors to be considered by Safe Stat. As a result of these changes, the recordability/ preventability accident indicator was replaced by the recordable accident indicator.

The recordable accident indicator makes all crashes that are recordable part of the safety analysis. The current safety fitness regulation states that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) will look solely at the accident rate per million miles in assigning fitness ratings. Only when a carrier objects to a particular rating is there any consideration of preventability. In that instance the burden, which is quite high, is on the carrier to present compelling evidence to establish that the recordable accident rate is not a fair means of assessing preventability. FMCSA defines compelling evidence with specific examples, including police reports, other verifiable government reports, or law enforcement and witness statements. 73 Fed. Reg. 53384.

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