Though I am still in denial, the hard truth of the matter is that 2011 is coming to a close. With December in full swing, preparing for holiday absences, I’ve had time to look back on 2011 and realize that we have been a little remiss in our blogging duties at Vigillo. Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) has been more or less ignored in our blogging. Though we have alluded to the SFD here and there, the most recent post about them was a guest blog by Dave Osiecki: Public “Ratings” of Safety must be Accurate from the Outset.

Which was written in July.

Of 2010.

At that time, the Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was expected to be released in 2011. As it’s now the end of 2011, I would hazard a guess that it’ll be released in 2012. Once released, the Safety Fitness Determination NPRM will still need to go through an evaluation and approval – which is expected to take at least a year. Even the Government Accountability Office has taken the FMCSA to task about the SFD, “…2 years behind in issuing and completing the rulemaking needed to use these data instead of a time-consuming compliance review. FMCSA expects to finalize the rulemaking in 2013.” http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-858

It’s the safety evaluation that the FMCSA will use to determine which carriers are classified as “unfit” to operate. Currently, carriers are still being held to the old Safety Fitness Ratings (established under SafeStat).

Active Safety Fitness Ratings

  • Only to be issued or downgraded via an Onsite Investigation/compliance review
  • Provides a snapshot of compliance only on the date of the most recent compliance review
  • Based only on critical and acute violations
  • Labels carriers under consideration as Unfit, Marginal, or Continue to Operate

Proposed Safety Fitness Determinations

  • Not exclusively tied to Onsite Investigations
  • Updated regularly (tied to the SMS and a fleet’s 7 BASICs)
  • Based on violations of all safety-based regulations
  • Labels carriers Unsatisfactory, Conditional, or Satisfactory

Now you’re probably asking why in the name of Frosty-The-Snowman do I care?
Well, the SFD is a safety rating given by the FMCSA. Unlike the 7 BASICS, it’s not an evaluation, but a RATING. This is what the FMCSA will tell shippers/brokers/insurers/attorneys/the public to use when evaluating your fleet in terms of safety. This safety rating will be tied to (though not entirely based on) your monthly BASIC scores. So yes, they will change every month. Are you ready to be evaluated by your CSA BASICs yet?