The goal of the Safety Data Improvement Program grant funding is to provide financial and technical assistance to States to facilitate the collection of accurate, complete, and timely data on all large commercial truck and bus crashes that involve a fatality, injury, or a vehicle towed from the crash scene. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for regulating the safety of interstate truck and bus travel in the United States. To fulfill this role, FMCSA uses data collected by States to update inventories and monitor compliance of motor carrier companies, measure the condition of vehicle fleets, track the driving records of licensed operators, and record crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) on public roadways. High-quality, timely data in each of these areas is crucial to the mission of improving the safety of CMVs.
To collect this information, FMCSA maintains the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and supplies access to the system for designated employees in each State through SAFETYNET, an online network. States use MCMIS and SAFETYNET to enter data on motor carriers, drivers, compliance reviews, inspections and crashes. Once entered, the data is available for analysis by the States and at the national level. MCMIS information forms the basis of State commercial vehicle safety plans required by FMCSA for funding under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). States also use the data to identify problem carriers and to plan for the best use of limited resources to improve safety. At the national level, FMCSA uses the data to characterize the safety experience of CMVs, and to help States with the task of identifying high risk carriers and drivers. The data are also used by motor carrier companies, safety researchers, advocacy groups, insurance companies, the public, and a variety of other entities.
While the MCMIS Crash File is intended to be a census of all large commercial truck and bus crashes that result in a fatality, injury, or tow away, many States do not send FMCSA reports on all trucks and buses involved in crashes that meet the reportable crash criteria. In addition, many of the reports received are incomplete or inaccurate. Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the US DOT Inspector General have recommended that improvements be made in FMCSA crash and enforcement data. Congress has responded by annually providing funding for FMCSA to work with the States to improve reporting of large commercial truck and bus crashes.