FMCSA safety chief outlines agency's initiatives

Jack Van Steenburg, chief safety officer and administrative administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (, was the keynote speaker at Zonar's inaugural fleet management conference, The Zone 2013, held last week in San Antonio, Texas.

Zonar ( is a provider of fleet telematics, remote diagnostics and mobile onboard computing.

In his opening remarks, Van Steenburg noted the three core principles of the FMCSA: redoing the application process for transportation authority to ensure safer carriers; maintaining high industry safety standards; and removing high-risk carriers and drivers.

With regard to getting authority, he noted that FMCSA is working on combining a number of registration forms into one and building a screening algorithm into the application process to better access that applicant's safety capability. He also wants to make sure there are no "reincarnated" carriers that had significant safety issues in the past.


The agency's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program has been successful in preventing commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities, and injuries, said Van Steenburg. Since the program began in 2010, FMCSA has conducted 3.6 million vehicle inspections and 24,000 compliance reviews of high-risk carriers.

In 2010, 33 percent of vehicle inspections were "clean," he said. Now, the number is 39 percent.

Under CSA, FMCSA has identified nearly 1,000 carriers deemed "unsafe," meaning they are likely to cause an imminent accident resulting in an injury or death, he continued. These "high-risk" carriers are those that have four BASICs that are over the threshold. 

BASICs (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) are the seven categories the agency uses as part of the Safety Measurement System to measure safety performance and create monthly CSA scores. 

Motor coach safety

Van Steedburg talked about the FMCSA's motor coach safety initiative. The agency has identified some 250 motor coach companies deemed "at risk" and has increased training for bus inspectors.

The initiative is specifically targeting driver fatigue and behavior, vehicle maintenance, operator oversight, crash avoidance measures and occupant protection. 


Touching upon the new Hours-Of-Service regulations scheduled to go into effect in July 1, Van Steedburg noted that the two of the most controversial requirements are one that mandates that drivers to take a 30-minute off-duty break within 8 hours of coming on duty and a revised 34-hour restart period can only be used once a week that requires two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. off-duty time before a driver can resume driving. 

Electronic logging devices

Van Steedburg said a new notice of proposed rulemaking mandating ogging devices (the new name for electronic onboard recorders) should be out in November, with a final rule issued possibly by mid-2014. The rule will also establish technical standards for electronic logging devices.

Concluding his presentation, he said the FMCSA's "vision is a crash-free environment. Working together, we can reach that goal."