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Proposed changes to the FMCSA Safety Measurement System

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been using the the Safety Measurement System (SMS), a core component of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, since 2010. SMS identifies high-risk companies and operators of commercial motor vehicles and scores them accordingly.


After the completion of the Item Response Theory study in 2019, the FMCSA identified changes the Agency could make to the SMS to better identify motor carriers in need of safety interventions. These changes will streamline information and improve data-driven safety decisions.

The new prioritization methodology includes the following proposed changes:


Reorganized “BASICs”

• Reorganizing the Vehicle Maintenance and Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), now called “safety categories,” to focus on motor carriers with higher crash rates and more accurately pinpoint unsafe behaviors.


Reorganized Roadside Violations

• Reorganizing 973 roadside violations into 116 violation groups of similar safety behaviors to prevent inconsistencies that occur when multiple violations are cited for a single or very similar underlying issue.


Simplified Roadside Violation Weights

• Simplifying violation severity weights to adopt a more straightforward approach.


Proportionate Percentiles

• Eliminating large percentile changes that occur for non-safety-related reasons to more precisely indicate how a motor carrier’s performance is trending from month to month.


New Segment: Driver Fitness and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance Safety Categories

• Extending segmentation of carriers by operation and vehicle type to additional safety categories to improve carrier-to-carrier comparisons.


Improved Intervention Thresholds to focus on carriers with high crash rates:

• Adjusting the Intervention Thresholds for the HM Compliance and Driver Fitness safety categories to focus on carriers with the highest crash risk.


Increased Focus on Recent Violations

• Only prioritizing motor carriers with violations cited within the last 12 months to focus enforcement interventions on carriers that have recent safety issues.


Updated Utilization Factor

• More accurately accounting for the on-road exposure of motor carriers with the most Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per vehicle.


Reorganized Unsafe Driving Category to Include Operating While OOS Violations

• More accurately reflecting driver-based safety problems related to disregarding Out-of-Service (OOS) Orders.


As more information about the changes to the SMS come out, we will continue to update you here. Subscribe to our blog and monthly newsletter to stay updated!


All information in this post was retrieved from the FMCSA New Prioritization Methodology: Foundational Document, Version 1.5, March 2022.


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