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Big trucking industry lobby pushes for SMS safety scores to be removed from public

Written by Steve Gursten Posted October 14th, 2014

What do OOIDA and ATA have to hide from the public and truck accident attorneys?

SMS Safety Measurement System website

As fall is upon us, the trucking lobby made a last-ditch push to try to get the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to remove SMS scores from the public domain. This would mean the public and safety groups would no longer have access.  It would also mean attorneys who are litigating truck accident cases could not access the safety data to investigate the SMS score of the trucking company involved in a particular wreck.

In a letter to the FMCSA, a coalition of trucking organizations (including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operation Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)) maintained the underlying data upon which the SMS information is predicated suffered from “fundamental data sufficiency and methodology issues that seriously affected the reliability of motor carriers’ scores.”

My two cents is this is ridiculous. I’ve litigated truck accident cases caused by the negligence of some of the worst trucking companies and truck drivers in the country.

Guess what? They all have terrible SMS scores.

SMS scores are a helpful safety  tool. They help truck drivers find prospective employers who care about safety and will not coerce them to break the rules. And they help good load brokers find  companies who follow the rules and put safety first.

Why eliminate something this helpful from the public?

What is really going on here?

For starters, the trucking lobby is worried SMS scores will subsequently be used in litigation when truck accident victims and their families turn to the legal system. The commercial transportation industry lobby should be ashamed of itself. This is like big tobacco and other industries who are more interested in protecting themselves from lawsuits and mitigation of damages than they are of protecting the innocent public and keeping everyday folks safe.

The SMS data (which recently had its website revamped)  has been a remarkable success since its first iteration was rolled out in 2010. It’s reliable and accurate in predicting and tracking patterns of unsafe commercial trucking or motor coach practices.

Hopefully, common sense prevails and the trucking industry will not succeed on its quest for self-preservation and take away this wonderful tool from the public.

Related information:

Why is OOIDA against raising truck insurance limits?

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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