Major changes previously announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to the Safety Measurement System that drives the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety-compliance program for motor carriers may go into effect as early as  Dec. 3rd.

FMCSA’s so-called SMS 3.0 update—originally announced back in March— is slated to go into effect sometime next month.  But the rollout may occur as early as this coming Monday, stated top executives with compliance/management solutions provider Vigillo, who yesterday presented a detailed webinar on the SMS changes and their impact on motor carriers.

They expect the changes to go live simultaneously with FMCSA’s next monthly SMS site update, which is scheduled for the week of Dec. 3rd. “That’s our best guess on when it will happen,” Vigillo’s director of sales Drew Anderson told FleetOwner. “Like other solution providers, when FMCSA goes live with changes, we go live, too. However, we are all in the same boat as carriers—the agency does not provide us any guidance on when the changes will hit. So, we have to do our best to anticipate when that will happen and be ready for it.”

The biggest change coming next month will be the dropping of the Cargo BASIC and the replacing of it with a new HazMat BASIC.  There will also be modifications made to various violations and the severity weight of certain violations.

Per the expected changes, with the Cargo BASIC jettisoned and the HazMat BASIC launched, the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC will include all cargo violations except those that are hazmat-related , said Anderson.  “This will make the largest BASIC [Vehicle Maintenance] in terms of violations even larger,” he remarked.

Anderson said this change was driven by FMSCA recognizing that there had been a “bias shown against carriers operating flatbed and open-deck trailers, which were subject to more maintenance inspections that other types of haulers. The upshot is the impact of cargo violations will be severely diluted for non-hazmat carriers. In addition, most cargo violations will now be weighted less severely.”

He noted that an analysis of Vigillo customer data of top Vehicle Maintenance violations showed that the first cargo violation to appear is in the 41st slot. “So,” Anderson pointed out, “the ‘old’ non-hazmat violations effectively get lost in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. Also, within Vehicle Maintenance, the weight of cargo violations has largely been reduced, by 3 to 6 points typically. Everything from general securement to tie-downs was reduced. Only the violation for towing loaded buses was unchanged—that still costs 10 points.”

The new HazMat BASIC will score privately for one year, advised Vigillo director of client services Sloan Morris.    “This BASIC was created to better address hazmat crash severity, to better identify compliance problems and to aid first responders [with information]. It will include some 238 ‘old’ cargo violations and 111 new hazmat violations. The HazMat BASIC will have an intervention threshold of 80 for all carriers. This BASIC will almost exclusively focus on placarding and compliance, not ‘direct’ safety issues,” he added.

“The HazMat BASIC does appear to introduce a bias against large carriers that do not specialize in hazmat hauling,” Morris continued. He explained that an alert status can be triggered for large carriers on very few hazmat violations. “Essentially, what this means is that HazMat will be the most sensitive of the BASICs—very few violations can push a fleet over the threshold, especially if they do not specialize in hazmat.”

He said that Vigillo customer data indicates that among the top –ten HazMat violations, only one is directly safety-related-- “package not secured”—with the others more involved with compliance matters.

Morris said that FMCSA will also change the definition of a hazmat carrier “to correctly categorize carriers based on the number of hazmat-placardable inspections done over a specific time period and whether at least 5% of the total inspections are hazmat-placardable. “

He said the key issue will be that those carriers identified as hazmat carriers will then be subject to tougher threshold levels for all the BASICs.

Other changes in SMS 3.0 discussed by Anderson and Sloan will include:

·         Changing the name of the Fatigued Driver HOS BASIC to the HOS Compliance BASIC

·         Changes to the SMS display that will separate crashes with injuries from those with fatalities

·         Eliminate vehicle violations from driver-only inspections

·         Eliminate driver violations from vehicle-only inspections

·         More closely align SMS with Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP) regs

·         More accurately identify carriers engaged in transporting passengers