1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187

FAX 847.296.3769

July 12, 2002

Joseph M. Clapp
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
US DOT Docket Management Facility
Room PL-401
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590-001


RE: Docket No. FMCSA-2001-11061
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Interim Final Rule on a New Entrant Safety Assurance Process (67 FR 31978; May 13, 2002)




Dear Administrator Clapp:

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) respectfully asks that the following comments be included in the record of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Interim Final Rule entitled "New Entrant Safety Assurance Process," published in the May 13, 2002, Federal Register (67 FR 31978). As the following comments indicate, while ASSE supports the intent of the Interim Final Rule, changes in several important areas are necessary if that intent is to be fulfilled.

Established in 1911, ASSE is the oldest and, with more than 30,000 members, by far the largest association representing safety, health and environmental professionals. Among the Society's thirteen practice specialties is an active and vocal Transportation Practice Specialty with members from across the United States transportation system working committed to improving transportation safety.

Based on that commitment, ASSE supports the overall intent of the Interim Final Rule to ensure that new motor carriers are knowledgeable and capable of adhering to federal motor carrier safety standards. Requiring new entrants to pass a safety audit before they can receive permanent Department of Transportation (DOT) registration can only help in ensuring that motor carriers are prepared to operate safely on this nation's highways.

The Society is concerned, however, that, without vitally important changes in several areas of the Interim Final Rule, FMSCA's intent will not be fulfilled once the requirements set out here come into effect January 2003.

Six-Month Audit Deadline

The Interim Final Rule's eighteen-month deadline for a new entrant safety audit to be conducted is far too long a time for a new motor carrier to operate without such an audit. If a new entrant is operating in an unsafe manner, the public who must share the roads with such a carrier should be able to rely on the best efforts of DOT to ensure safe operation as quickly as possible. Safety must be a priority from the very beginning of a motor carrier's existence. New motor carriers cannot be allowed a time to get safety right. At most, a six-month period should be allowed. New motor carriers operating safely should have no difficulty in meeting such a deadline.

New Ownership

ASSE is also concerned that the Interim Final Rule limits the applicability of the safety audit requirement to new entrant motor carriers and does not address the entirely similar situation of when a motor carrier changes ownership. Change that comes with new ownership of a motor carrier can be as significant an event as the establishment of new motor carrier with the same issues of possible inexperience and lack of a proven safety record that presumably caused FMSCA to issue this Interim Final Rule. A Final Rule should take the same kind of interest in ensuring that new owners have the ability to meet safety standards as owners establishing a new motor carrier.

Private Sector Safety Audits

Finally, a Final Rule concerning new entrant safety audits must clearly indicate that appropriately credentialed safety professionals may conduct new entrant safety audits. For example, a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with appropriate transportation experience is well qualified to perform such audits without further designation.

Whenever possible, ASSE urges reliance on the long established and widely accepted private sector system to ensure the professional capabilities of safety, health and environmental professionals who are qualified to perform such audits exists. Appropriate designations are given by organizations accredited by one of two nationally recognized independent accrediting bodies overseeing such professional safety designations - the Council on Engineering and Scientific Specialties Board (CESB) or the National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The Final Rule should indicate that new entrant safety auditors be credentialed under the auspices of one of these accrediting bodies.

As far as determining adequate experience to conduct safety audits beyond appropriate professional designations, ASSE recognizes the need to formalize such determinations and offers its assistance in doing so. Working with FMSCA, ASSE can bring the real world experience of its members' in assisting motor carriers operate safely to help determine the levels of experience needed to conduct such audits.

As always, ASSE stands ready to work cooperatively with DOT and FMSCA to help ensure continued improvement of motor carrier and highway safety.


Mark D. Hansen, PE, CSP

Click here to go back to the ASSE Federal Statements and Testimony page.