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New Changes Proposed to FMCSA Safety Measurement System & BASICS
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

How your company is ranked for FMCSA safety interventions may soon change.

A notice of proposed updates to the FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS), which evaluates the safety risks of motor carriers and identifies those that may be the most hazardous, has been released.

For some background, the SMS was first introduced in 2010 as a part of the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program and currently has seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) that carriers are scored in, based on their roadside inspection violations and DOT compliance reviews.

We’ve covered the BASICs that contain public information in the SMS in these Foley articles:

Carrier ratings under the Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASICs are not available to the public. Knowing the BASICs is a great place to start in ensuring your CSA score remains in good standing.  

Violations related to any of the BASICs can result in safety interventions, including warning letters and investigations. Once violations are committed, they will affect a motor carrier’s SMS status for 24 months. Only time and/or inspections without violations in that specific BASIC will improve a carrier’s ranking. 

So, what’s changing? 

Below, we’ll review these proposed SMS updates from the FMCSA: 

  • New safety categories for carrier scoring purposes 
  • Updated system for weighing the severity of carrier violations 
  • Revised carrier intervention thresholds for improved focus on those with the highest crash rates 

Let’s uncover what these changes could mean for your company. 

Consolidating & Updating the BASICS 

The FMCSA has proposed to change the above BASICs to the following new categories: 

  • Unsafe Driving 
  • Crash Indicator 
  • Hours-of-Service Compliance  
  • Vehicle Maintenance 
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Driver Observed 
  • Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance 
  • Driver Fitness

You may notice the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC is not listed. The FMCSA has suggested including it in the Unsafe Driving category, with the conclusion that roadside drug and alcohol violations are too rare to warrant them an entire ranking category. 

The new Vehicle Maintenance: Driver Observed BASIC would involve maintenance issues that drivers can identify in their pre- and post-trip inspections. 

Reworking Violation Severity Weights 

In the current SMS, each violation a carrier commits is assigned a severity weight of one to ten. The FMCSA has noted this decision may be too heavily influenced by the personal opinions of compliance officials. 

To make the violation weighing process more objective, the agency has proposed each violation group is assigned a weight of either one or two, based on whether a violation that does or does not result in an out-of-service order. 

Adjusting Intervention Thresholds 

FMCSA currently prioritizes carriers for safety interventions when their SMS percentiles reach or exceed the agency’s set intervention thresholds. Carriers are grouped together by number of safety events under each BASIC, then assigned a percentile from 0 to 100. The higher the percentile ranking, the more likely they are to face a safety intervention.  

The thresholds for each BASIC vary since some of the categories have higher risks than others. As a result, those categories with higher risks have lower intervention thresholds with stricter criteria.  

For additional information on the current thresholds, see our related Foley article: Everything You Need to Know About FMCSA Intervention Thresholds 

The FMCSA has proposed changes to these intervention thresholds that would allow the agency to focus on the carriers that have committed recent violations and have the highest crash rates.

In doing so, the agency has offered to assign category percentiles only to carriers with one violation under it within the last 12 months. This is a drastic change from the current 24-month timeframe in which violations impact a carrier’s ranking.  

Below are the proposed changes to intervention thresholds. 

The new Vehicle Maintenance: Driver Observed and Vehicle Maintenance safety categories will have the same thresholds as the SMS Vehicle Maintenance BASIC:

  • General carriers – 80% 
  • Passenger carriers – 65% 
  • Hazmat (HM) carriers – 75% 

The Driver Fitness thresholds will increase from:

  • General carriers – 80% to 90% 
  • Passenger carriers – 65% to 75% 
  • HM carriers – 75% to 85% 

For all carrier types, the HM Compliance category threshold will increase from 80% to 90%.  

What do you think of the proposed changes? 

Staying compliant under the current FMCSA Safety Measurement System system has proven to be difficult for some carriers – especially large companies with employees who drive. If you have thoughts or concerns about the above changes to the SMS and the BASICs involved, you may leave your public comments on them here through May 16.

Stay Compliant with the Current BASICs 

It’s important to keep in mind that these changes have not been finalized by the FMCSA yet. You still need to comply with the current SMS standards and fulfill your requirements under each BASIC.  

Consider Foley as your best source of compliance support. Our comprehensive software addresses nearly all the categories we’ve covered here. For instance...

  • Foley’s MVR monitoring program can track your drivers’ behaviors behind the wheel to help with the Unsafe Driving BASIC. 
  • Our drug and alcohol testing consortium fulfills the requirements under the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. 
  • Our exclusive driver file management software provides Driver Fitness BASIC compliance.

Our exclusive Audit Risk Monitor (ARM) report also updates you on your company's CSA measurement on a monthly basis so you can see if your score has changed, and if so, what safety events or violations impacted it.

We can also ensure you’re meeting all the recordkeeping requirements under each BASIC.  Ready for compliance peace of mind? Request a FREE software demo with one of our experts, or fill out the form below to get started. 

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