The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) yesterday implemented 11 specific changes to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) that drive its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety-enforcement program for motor carriers.

The changes were described as “enhancements” by FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro in a conference call with reporters.

Ferro said the improvements to the SMS--- which uses all available inspection and crash data to prioritize carriers for enforcement interventions-- will provide the agency with “more precise information to assess a company’s on-the-road safety performance.”

She noted that the changes had been developed over several months and took into account feedback from both the public and trucking stakeholders.

As detailed by FMCSA, the key SMS enhancements are these:

  • Changing the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Hazardous Materials (HM) BASIC to better identify HM-related safety and compliance problems. Motor carriers and law enforcement can view this new BASIC in December; however FMCSA will conduct further monitoring before the BASIC is made public.
  • Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by including cargo and load securement violations that were previously in the Cargo-Related BASIC.
  • Counting intermodal equipment violations found during drivers’ pre-trip inspections.
  • Aligning speeding violations to be consistent with current speedometer regulations that require speedometers to be accurate within 5 mph. The change applies to the prior 24 months of data used by the SMS and all SMS data moving forward.
  • Changing the name of the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately reflect violations contained within the BASIC.
  • Aligning the severity weight of paper and electronic logbook violations equally on the SMS for consistency purposes.

“Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by moving cargo violations into it will improve our focus on carriers that are higher crash risks,” Ferro remarked. She said this change also “corrects a BIAS that existed in that BASIC [against carriers operating flatbed and open-deck trailers].”

She also said that creating a “stand alone” Hazardous Materials BASIC “will better identify hazmat-related safety and compliance problems at both carriers and shippers.”

According to Ferro, FMCSA provided a four-month “preview period” ahead of the implementation to allow the public and trucking “ample opportunity” to review and comment on the changes. More than 19,000 companies and 2,900 law-enforcement personnel took part in the public preview.

FMCSA noted that CSA’s SMS “quantifies on-road safety performance of carriers to identify the specific safety problems the carrier exhibits and to monitor whether performance is improving or worsening” and that the SMS “helps FMCSA more efficiently apply its resources and bring carriers and drivers into compliance with Federal safety regulations in order to prevent crashes and save lives.”

 “These SMS enhancements reflect FMCSA’s commitment to listening to our stakeholders and researching and analyzing enhancements in the name of safety,” said Ferro. “By strengthening our cornerstone enforcement program, we are continuing to raise the bar for truck and bus safety.”

FMCSA said it is encouraging motor carriers to check their safety data by going to this website to see how these SMS changes may have affected their SMS results.