Protect your record against ‘non-preventable’ accidents

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The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched the Crash Preventability Demonstration Program in August 2017. It allows motor carriers or drivers involved in certain crash types to submit Requests for Data Review through FMCSA’s DataQs system.

Originally intended to last just two years, the pilot project is being made permanent, industry sources have told me.

After years of bemoaning the unfairness of being assessed responsibility for crashes caused by others, we now have the ability to challenge certain classes of accidents. Take advantage of it. Protect your record (I know, but I can’t say it enough).

If it’s not your fault, the accident won’t affect your compliance, safety and accountability score.

The key is knowing the classes of accidents to which it applies and develop the necessary proof.

Recently released statistics indicate that an overwhelming number of qualifying accidents were found to be “non-preventable.” Of the 5,203 such accidents, 4,877 were found to be “non-preventable”, 79 preventable, and 247 undecideds.

Here is the breakdown of the statistics (non-preventable/preventable/undecided):

– CMV struck by a motorist under the influence (352/12/16);

– CMV struck by a motorist driving the wrong direction (309/6/21);

– CMV struck in the rear (3,409/45/170);

– CMV struck while legally stopped or parked (even if unattended) (392/7/23);

– CMV struck by a person trying to commit suicide (15/0/0);

– CMV struck an animal and was disabled (186/2/8);

– CMV accident result of infrastructure failure, falling tree, rocks, or other debris (72/2/1);

– CMV struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle (126/4/7).

And, this is not just a program for the big boys of trucking. Carriers with 5 or less units were 83/1/15), 6-15 were 184/3/13, 16-50 were 511/15/33, 51 to 500 were 1,770/32/75, and bigger than 500 were 2,313/27/110.

But think about it: Over the past two years, just 5,203 of these types of accidents were submitted by all the carriers registered with the FMCSA.  In the future, make sure, you’re on that list, if you’re involved in a non-preventable accident.


Submit your documentation through the DataQs website, with proof to establish that the accident was non-preventable.

Treat the submission as if it is a hearing.  Documentation can include photos, videos, police report, driver accident report, witness statements, tow company records (even statements or photos), fire company records, repair estimates and documents as well as court docket entry (if the other driver is charged).

What do you need to know

Start with educating your staff about the “the call”.

Remember, that call is from a shaken-up driver who just had an accident and is worried about his job and his licence.

Make sure they know the types of accidents that qualify so they can take action.

Teach them what to do. For example, take photos that establish the point-of-impact such as when the fluids hit the road or skid marks. And, of course, the deer (or moose or bear or…).

Make sure your safety and risk management departments are aware.  They should accumulate the supporting documentation such as in-cab video, telematics, ECM download, repair estimates and paperwork for submission.  Proof of payment by the other driver or his insurance company will also bolster your position.

Finally, follow up.  Call the investigating officer and remind him of the need for documentation of a certain type of accident. As this is probably not a program with which they are involved or have much information, they are probably not aware of the importance of such documentation.  Keep an eye on the court docket to see if the other driver entered a plea or was found guilty.

It’s your record, Protect it.  Nobody else is going to.




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Doug Marcello, a shareholder with the law firm of Saxton & Stump and chief legal officer of Bluewire, is a trucking defense attorney with a CDL. He had represented trucking clients across the country, having been specially admitted for cases in 35 states. Doug received the 2018 Leadership Award of the ATA Safety Council.

He has served on the advisory board of the American Trucking Research Institute. Doug is a member of numerous trucking organizations, including a board member of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association and member of the American Trucking Associations Safety Council as well as trucking law organizations including TIDA and Transportation Lawyers. He has written numerous articles concerning trucking safety and defense which can be found at You can also find his interviews and presentation on his YouTube channel and podcast, “TransportCenter”, on iTunes.

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  • Hello, I would to ask to precautions preventable accidents on my job like Jack knife.they fired me because on that ,no ticket from police and fines.i still get fired what I do on this .I tried to apply another job ,they called to verification job they don’t get because of the accident. What should I do ?