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  • Henry Seaton

FMCSA proposes changes to Safety Measurement System

Although no changes would occur before an ongoing review of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is completed, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed future enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS), the methodology that determines CSA scores. As required by last year's FAST Act, the National Academies of Sciences is conducting a review of the correlation between SMS and crash risk, among other things.

Most of the proposed SMS changes were first outlined in June 2015, and the latest document responds to comments on those items and proposes further a couple of additional changes. In addition to publishing the proposed changes in the Federal Register, FMCSA is allowing carriers to preview how the changes would affect their SMS metrics. Comments are due December 3.

The changes proposed in 2015 and retained in the latest plan include:

  • Adjusting intervention thresholds for the Vehicle Maintenance, Controlled Substances/Alcohol and Driver Fitness Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to better focus on carriers with high crash rates;

  • Expanding the range over which the utilization factor in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs is applied from 200,000 to 250,000 vehicle miles traveled per average power unit to more accurately account for carriers with increased exposure;

  • Moving violations for operating while out of service, regardless of the type of violation, to the Unsafe Driving BASIC to make it easier to identify driver safety problems; and

  • Making various changes to the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC to make it more effective in identifying carriers with compliance problems. Those changes include segmenting the BASIC by cargo tank and non-cargo tank operations and adjusting the intervention threshold.

The newly proposed changes are:

  • Assigning BASIC percentiles to a carrier that otherwise would meet data sufficiency standards only if that carrier has had an inspection with a violation in that BASIC in the past year; and

  • Excluding carriers from the Crash Indicator BASIC unless they have had at least three reportable crashes in the past two years. The current standard is two crashes.

Under the FAST Act, FMCSA is barred from publishing information on property carriers' SMS BASIC alerts or relative percentiles until the National Academies of Sciences completes its review, the agency develops a corrective action plan, and the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General certifies that that FMCSA's plan covers the National Academies' recommendations.

FMCSA said it would provide the proposed SMS enhancements as well as the comments on them to the National Academies for its consideration.

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