Dr. Marc Green, PhD

This article should not be interpreted to mean that human perception-reaction time is 1.5 seconds. There is no such thing as the human perception-reaction time. Time to respond varies greatly across different tasks and even within the same task under different conditions. It can range from .15 second to many seconds. It is also highly variable. In many cases, the very concept of perception-reaction time simply doesn’t apply2.

1. A “standard” or “generally accepted” PRT cannot and does not exist;

2. Exact PRT values are almost always impossible to determine due to lack of data, to the impossibility of knowing when to start timing and to the general difficulty of going from the simplified research world to the real-world;

3. A PRT cannot be determined by cookbook methods such as “Olson”, AASHTO or a computer program;

4. Specifying PRT without specifying deceleration holds little value, since stopping depends on both. Drivers often trade them off. Braking at maximum possible deceleration cannot be assumed; and

5. PRT generally does not explain why a collision occurred. It is not a cause, but rather a symptom to be explained. The real cause lies in the answer to the question, “Why was the PRT insufficient?” By example, imagine that your car stops. Why? The gas gauge points to empty. Is that why the car stopped? No. Your car does not stop because the gas gauge needle points to empty. The guage is only an overt symptom and indicator, of being out of gas. The car stopped because it was out of gas, not because the gas gauge’s needle position. PRT is like the gas gauge. The empty tank is like low visibility, misplaced action boundary, response conflict, violated expectation, driver impairment, etc.

In many cases, the speed with which a person can respond, “reaction time,” is the key to assigning liability. It is common practice for accident reconstructionists simply to use a standard reaction time number, such as 1.5 seconds, when analyzing a case. In fact, reaction time is a complicated behavior and is affected by a large number of variables. There can be no single number that applies universally.

Reaction time is a surprisingly complex topic. Unfortunately, most “experts” used canned numbers without a good appreciation for where the numbers originate, how they were obtained or the variables that affect them. Moreover, there are several distinct classes of reaction time, each with somewhat different properties. In this article, I briefly describe some keys issues. The discussion focuses primarily on driver reaction time.

Reaction Time Components

When a person responds to something s/he hears, sees or feels, the total reaction time can be decomposed into a sequence of components.

1 Mental Processing Time

This is the time it takes for the responder to perceive that a signal has occurred and to decide upon a response. For example, it is the time required for a driver to detect that a pedestrian is walking across the roadway directly ahead and to decide that the brakes should be applied. Mental processing time is itself a composite of four substages:

  • Sensation: the time it takes to detect the sensory input from an object. (“There is a shape in the road.”) All things being equal, reaction time decreases with greater signal intensity (brightness, contrast, size, loudness, etc.), foveal viewing, and better visibility conditions. Best reaction times are also faster for auditory signals than for visual ones. This stage likely does not result in conscious awareness.
  • Perception/recognition: the time needed to recognize the meaning of the sensation. (“The shape is a person.”) This requires the application of information from memory to interpret the sensory input. In some cases, “automatic response,” this stage is very fast. In others, “controlled response,” it may take considerable time. In general, novel input slows response, as does low signal probability, uncertainty (signal location, time or form), and surprise.
  • Situational awareness: the time needed to recognize and interpret the scene, extract its meaning and possibly extrapolate into the future. For example, once a driver recognizes a pedestrian in the road, and combines that percept with knowledge of his own speed and distance, then he realizes what is happening and what will happen next – the car is heading toward the pedestrian and will possibly result in a collision unless action is taken. As with perception/recognition, novelty slows this mental processing stage. Selection of the wrong memory schema may result in misinterpretation.
  • Response selection and programming: the time necessary to decide which if any response to make and to mentally program the movement. (“I should steer left instead of braking.”) Response selection slows under choice reaction time when there are multiple possible signals. Conversely, practice decreases the required time. Lastly, electrophysiological studies show that most people exhibit preparatory muscle potentials prior to the actual movement. In other words, the decision to respond occurs appreciably faster than any recordable response can be observed or measured.

These four stages are usually lumped together as “perception time,” a misnomer since response selection and some aspects of situational awareness are decision, not perception.

2. Movement Time

Once a response is selected, the responder must perform the required muscle movement. For example, it takes time to lift the foot off the accelerator pedal, move it laterally to the brake and then to depress the pedal.

Several factors affect movement times. In general, more complex movements require longer movement times while practice lowers movement times. Finally the Yerkes-Dodson Law says that high emotional arousal, which may be created by an emergency, speeds gross motor movements but impairs fine detailed movements.

3 Device Response Time

Mechanical devices take time to engage, even after the responder has acted. For example, a driver stepping on the brake pedal does not stop the car immediately. Instead, the stopping is a function of physical forces, gravity and friction.

Here’s a simple example. Suppose a person is driving a car at 55 mph (80.67 feet/sec) during the day on a dry, level road. He sees a pedestrian and applies the brakes. What is the shortest stopping distance that can reasonably be expected? Total stopping distance consists of three components:

  1. Reaction Distance. First. Suppose the reaction time is 1.5 seconds. This means that the car will travel 1.5 x80.67 or 120.9 feet before the brakes are even applied.
  2. Brake Engagement Distance. Most reaction time studies consider the response completed at the moment the foot touches the brake pedal. However, brakes do not engage instantaneously. There is an additional time required for the pedal to depress and for the brakes to engage. This is variable and difficult to summarize in a single number because it depends on urgency and braking style. In an emergency, a reasonable estimate is .3 second, adding another 24.2 feet3.
  3. Physical Force Distance. Once the brakes engage, the stopping distance is determined by physical forces (D=S²/(30*f) where S is mph) as 134.4 feet.

Total Stopping Distance = 120.9 ft + 24.2 ft + 134.4 ft = 279.5 ft

Almost half the distance is created by driver reaction time. This is one reason that it is vital to have a good estimate of speed of human response. Below, I give some values which I have derived from my own experience and from an extensive review of research results.

Response speed depends on several factors so there can be no single, universal reaction time value. Here is a list of factors which affect reaction time. In all cases, the times assume daylight and good visibility conditions.

Expectation

Reaction times are greatly affected by whether the driver is alert to the need to brake. I’ve found it useful to divide alertness into three classes:

  • Expected: the driver is alert and aware of the good possibility that braking will be necessary. This is the absolute best reaction time possible. The best estimate is 0.7 second. Of this, 0.5 is perception and 0.2 is movement, the time required to release the accelerator and to depress the brake pedal.
  • Unexpected: the driver detects a common road signal such as a brake from the car ahead or from a traffic signal. Reaction time is somewhat slower, about 1.25 seconds. This is due to the increase in perception time to over a second with movement time still about 0.2 second.
  • Surprise: the drive encounters a very unusual circumstance, such as a pedestrian or another car crossing the road in the near distance. There is extra time needed to interpret the event and to decide upon response. Reaction time depends to some extent on the distance to the obstacle and whether it is approaching from the side and is first seen in peripheral vision. The best estimate is 1.5 seconds for side incursions and perhaps a few tenths of a second faster for straight-ahead obstacles. Perception time is 1.2 seconds while movement time lengthens to 0.3 second.

The increased reaction time is due to several factors, including the need to interpret the novel situation and possibly to decide whether there is time to brake or whether steering is a better response. Moreover, drivers encountering another vehicle or pedestrian that violates traffic regulations tend to hesitate, expecting the vehicle/pedestrian to eventually halt. Lastly, there can be response conflict that lengthens reaction time. For example, if a driver’s only possible response requires steering into an oncoming traffic lane (to the left) there may be a hesitation.

Urgency

People brake faster when there is great urgency, when the time to collision is briefer. The driver is travelling faster and/or the obstacle is near when first seen. While brake times generally fall with greater urgency, there are circumstances where reaction time becomes very long when time-to-collision is very short. The most common situation is that the driver has the option of steering into the oncoming lane into order to avoid the obstacle. The driver then must consider alternative responses, braking vs. steering, weigh the dangers of each response, check the left lane for traffic, etc.

Cognitive Load

When other driving or nondriving matters consume the driver’s attention, then brake time becomes longer. For example, on a winding road, the driver must attend more to steering the car through the turns. Another major load on attention is the use of in-car displays and cell phones. There is no doubt that both cause delays in reaction times, with estimates ranging from 0.3 to as high a second or more, depending on the circumstances.

Stimulus-Response Compatibility

Humans have some highly built-in connections between percepts and responses. Pairings with high “stimulus-response compatibility” tend to be made very fast, with little need for thinking and with low error. Low stimulus-response incompatibility usually means slow response and high likelihood of error.

One source of many accidents is the human tendency to respond in the direction away from a negative stimulus, such as an obstacle on a collision course. If a driver sees a car approach from the right, for example, the overwhelming tendency will be to steer left, often resulting in the driver steering right into the path of the oncoming vehicle. The stimulus-response capability overrides and the driver simply cannot take the time to observe the oncoming car’s trajectory and to mentally calculate itsimple, reflexive uture position. In short, the driver must respond to where the car is now, not where it will be at some point in the future.

Most people have experienced this phenomenon when going into a skid. The correct response is to turn the wheel in the direction of the skid, but it takes practice and mental concentration to avoid turning the wheel away from the skid, which is the high compatibility response.

Psychological Refractory Period

Following a response, people exhibit a “psychological refractory period.” During this period, new responses are made more slowly than if there had been no previous behavior. For example, suppose a driver suddenly steers left and then right. The steer-right response will occur more slowly because it immediately followed the steer-left.

Age

Although most basic research finds that older people respond slower than younger ones, the data on older drivers’ braking times are not entirely clear. One problem is that different studies have used different definitions of older; that is, sometimes “older means 50, sometimes it could mean 70. Moreover, some studies find no slowing of reaction time with age. Instead, they conclude that the older driver’s greater experience and tendency to drive slower compensate all or in part for the decline in motor skills. [Note Added. Aging effects in PRT depend heavily on the task. For simple,reflexive responses, healthy older people show little slowing. For complex and/or low visibility tasks, however, they can be much slower.]

Gender

Although the data are not clear, it seems likely that females respond slightly slower than males.

Nature of the Signal

In the examples cited above, the driver detected a distinct signal such as a brake light, the appearance of a clear obstacle in the path, etc. Some braking cues are subtler and more difficult to detect, causing slower braking times.

One of the most difficult situations occurs when a driver must detect motion of the car immediately ahead, its acceleration or deceleration. Accidents frequently occur because the driver fails to notice that the car ahead has stopped and does not apply brakes until it is too late.

The general problem involves estimating time-to-collision (TTC. It is a tough problem for several reasons. One is that it is much more difficult to judge motion toward or away from you than it is to judge motion of something which cuts across your path. It’s simply a matter of optics. Humans, in part, sense motion by registering the movement of an object image projected on the retina, the light-sensing portion of the eye. The movement of the object’s image is much smaller with motion toward/away than with motion cutting across the frontal plane.

Second, it is more difficult to judge motion of the object ahead if we are moving as well. The visual system must then disentangle the retinal image motion caused by the movement of the object ahead from the retinal image motion caused by our own “egomotion.” This is far more complex a problem than judging motion of an object when we are stationary.

Third, the normal expectation is that cars do not stop in the middle of the road. Reaction time, as explained above, is much slower when people encounter a low probability or unexpected event.

Visibility

Reaction time increases in poor visibility. Low contrast, peripheral viewing, bad weather, etc. slow response. Moreover, virtually all reaction time studies have been performed in high light, photopic visibility conditions. At night in urban areas, vision operates in the mesopic range, so there is mixed rod-cone activation. The few existing data suggest that reaction time sharply increases as the rods become the primary photoreceptor.

On the other hand, there are some situations in which response is faster in low light. For example, light emitting sources, such as rail-highway crossing signals or brake lights, produce better reaction times at night. With no sun or skylight to reflect off the fixture and with a darker background, the signal has higher contrast and greater visibility.

Response Complexity

More complex muscular responses take longer. For example, braking requires lifting the foot from the accelerator, moving laterally to the brake pedal and then depressing. This is far more complex than turning the steering wheel. While there have been relatively few studies of steering reaction time, they find steering to be 0.15 to 0.3 second faster. Perception times are presumably the same, but assuming the hands are on the steering wheel, the movement required to turn a wheel is performed much faster than that required to move the foot from accelerator to brake pedal.

Reaction Time At Night

The same factors affecting reaction in daylight conditions operate at night. Light level per se, has little effect on reaction time. For example, one study found that under scotopic vision, decreasing light levels by a factor of ten only slowed reaction time by 20-25 msec (1/40 to 1/50 second.)

However, there are new variables at work. For example, a light which might have low contrast and low conspicuity during the day because the background is bright could become highly conspicuous at night and produce faster reaction times. Always remember that contrast is what matters: people see contrast, not light.

Complex Reaction Times

In his classic “On The Speed Of Mental Processes,” Donders (1868) proposed a classification scheme that experts still use to distinguish among three different types of reaction time, simple (Type A) and more complex situations, choice (Type B) and recognition (Type C). While most of the variables affect simple and complex types in the same way, choice and recognition reaction times each add new factors that must also be considered.

Choice reaction time (Type B) occurs when there are multiple possible signals, each requiring a different response. The responder must choose which signal was present, and then make the response appropriate for that light. This requires two processes not present in simple reaction time: 1) signal discrimination – decide which signal occurred and 2) response selection – choose the response based on which signal occurred. In the classic laboratory procedure, a person sits with his/her fingers on 2 different telegraph keys and waits for one of 2 different lights to flash. When a signal occurs, s/he releases the telegraph key assigned to that signal. Reaction time is again the time between light onset (signal) and release of the key (response.)

With multiple signals, the responder cannot simply detect the signal but must also recognize which signal occurred and then mentally program the correct response. These extra mental operations slow reaction. Choice reaction times slow as the number of possible signals increases according to the equation,

RT = a + b log2N

where a and b are constants and N is the number of alternatives. The equation has two terms. The “a” constant is simply the “irreducible minimum” reaction time in the situation. (The variable part is called “the reducible margin.”) The relationship between RT and the number of alternatives is nonlinear – doubling the number of alternatives does not increase RT by a factor of 2 but rather by the log of the number of possible signals.

In Type C, or “recognition,” reaction time, there are multiple possible signals but only one response. In this case, the responder makes the response when one stimulus occurs but withholds response when the other(s) appears. The standard lab version of this paradigm has a subject with his/her fingers on 1 telegraph key and waits for one of x different lights to flash. When the signal light occurs, s/he releases the telegraph. If one of the nonsignal lights occurs, then the subject should make no response. This is sometimes called the “go, no-go” paradigm. Reaction times are invariably longer than for simple reaction time. A good example would occur when a police officer confronts a “suspect.” The officer sees something in the suspect’s hand and must make a go (shoot) or no-go (don’t shoot) decision.

Final Comments

This article has focused on driver reaction times. While the basic principles generalize to estimating other reaction times, the exact numbers do not. Each type of reaction time has its own peculiarities that must be examined. For example, reaction time for a shooter who is tracking a target might be 0.3 second. but even this would be a function of trigger pull weight.

1This is a brief summary/elaboration of the article, “‘How Long Does It Take To Stop?’ Methodological Analysis of Driver Perception-Brake Times” Transportation Human Factors, 2, pp 195-216, 2000.

2See Green, M. (2017). Roadway Human Factors: From Science To Application. Tucson: Lawyers & Judges Publishig.

3I have made some simplifications here. First, some braking occurs during during the brake engagement period. This is best calculated by assuming that braking is half the maximum during the period. Recent data, however, suggests that the period is longer than than the 0.3 second described. Second, drivers do not always depress the brake pedal to maximum or brake in a single continuous movement, so full brake engagement may never occur. Third, vehicles with air brakes require an additional component, “brake lag”. Depending on the setting, air brakes have a .03 to .08 second lag before they engage. Most calculations use a nominal lag value of 0.5 seconds, adding another 40 feet to stopping distance.

Learn all about CSA from the FMCSA 155 Q&As;

1. Are carriers from Canada and Mexico impacted by Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)?

Answer

Generally, CSA affects Mexican and Canadian carriers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), carriers transporting passengers or cargo in interstate commerce, and carriers of hazardous materials in intrastate commerce. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has provided detailed answers to questions about the general applicability of the FMCSRs.

2. What is Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) at the highest level?

Answer

CSA is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety compliance and enforcement program, which holds motor carriers and drivers accountable for their safety on our Nation’s roads. CSA affects carriers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, carriers transporting passengers or cargo in interstate commerce, and Hazardous Materials carriers operating in intrastate commerce. CSA may also impact carriers whose State requires that they obtain a U.S. DOT Number. CSA consists of three key components:

  1. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) is FMCSA’s system for identifying unsafe carriers that should receive interventions. The SMS allows FMCSA, law enforcement, and motor carriers to see a comprehensive profile of safety issues. The SMS automatically identifies carriers that pose the greatest safety risk so that resources can be prioritized. Review the SMS Methodology to learn more about the SMS.
  2. The safety interventions include tools to more efficiently and effectively bring carriers into compliance.
  3. FMCSA uses the current safety rating process outlined in 49 CFR Part 385, which determines a carrier’s safety fitness through an Onsite Investigation. Safety rating information is available on the SAFER Website.

3. How can users access Safety Measurement System (SMS) data?

Answer

Users can view motor carriers’ SMS data here. Part of the website is open to the public and requires no password. The open part of the website includes each motor carrier’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentile ranks for five of the seven BASICs: Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Driver Fitness, and Vehicle Maintenance. The website also includes lists of crashes, roadside inspections, and violations resulting from roadside inspections.

When motor carriers sign in, they will be able to see additional data:

  • Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC percentile rank
  • Crash Indicator BASIC percentile rank
  • Driver names and other privacy-related material from individual inspection results

Motor carriers can sign in via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Portal or directly through the SMS Website. From this SMS page, a carrier representative can log in with its U.S. DOT Number and PIN in order to access the carrier’s non-public data. The carrier sign-in is at the bottom center of the screen. Once signed in, you will be guided back to the SMS homepage. After that, in the search box in the middle right section of the screen, you should type in the U.S. DOT # or MC # and hit search.

Motor carriers can request an FMCSA Portal account by clicking here and following the instructions to request an account. For additional assistance with an FMCSA Portal account, contact the Help Desk at 800-832-5660. To sign in via the SMS Website, you will need your U.S. DOT Number and PIN. Note that a Docket Number PIN will not enable you to see your SMS data. If you cannot locate your PIN or were never assigned one, complete the PIN registration process. A notification letter with your PIN will be generated and mailed to the address that was submitted on your most recent MCS-150 form. You should receive this letter within two weeks. If you need any assistance with PIN issues, call the FMCSA Help Desk at 800-832-5660 during normal business hours.

4. How does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) handle crashes when motor carriers are not at fault?

Answer

The structure of the new SMS is such that the motor carrier’s role in the crash (i.e. preventability) is not automatically determined or considered. In fact, recordable crash reports that States submit to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) do not include the motor carrier’s role in the crash. Consequently, motor carriers are identified for possible intervention based on recordable crashes without consideration of the motor carrier’s role.

This approach is taken because data analysis has historically shown that motor carriers who are involved in crashes, regardless of the motor carrier’s role, are likely to be involved in more future crashes than carriers who are not. Put simply, past crashes are a good predictor of future crashes.
However, as of August 1, 2017, FMCSA is conducting a 24-month Crash Preventability Demonstration Program to review the preventability of certain crash types. Throughout the Demonstration Program, FMCSA will maintain data so that at the program’s conclusion, the Agency can conduct analyses to include: the cost of operating the test and its extrapolation to a larger program; future crash rates of carriers that submitted RDRs; future crash rates of motor carriers with Not Preventable crashes; and impacts to the SMS Crash Indicator BASIC and prioritization. The analysis will be used to examine industry assertions that crashes of these types are not preventable and that removing these crashes from motor carriers’ records would result in a better correlation to future crash risk, as well as to inform future policy decisions on this issue. Details about the program can be found here: https://fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/crash-preventability-demonstration-program

5. Do you have copies of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) logo available for public use on websites and in newsletters?

Answer

Information on the CSA logo can be found here: http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Stay_Connected.aspx#branding

6. What is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety rating process?

Answer

FMCSA uses the current safety rating process outlined in 49 CFR Part 385, which determines a carrier’s safety fitness through an Onsite Investigation. Safety rating information is available on the SAFER Website.

7. How do I find my Inspection Selection System (ISS) value?

Answer

The ISS is not available to the public. A carrier can access its own ISS value by signing into the Portal or by logging in to the Safety Measurement System Website. A carrier can register on the Portal using its U.S. DOT Number and U.S. DOT PIN. For answers to questions about the Portal, contact compass@dot.gov or call 1-800-832-5660.

8. Paragraph 2.1.4 of the CSA Implementation package outlines how to determine whether to do a focused or full Compliance Review (CR). In the area where it notes that a carrier is deficient in the Crash Indicator BASIC only either a focused or full CR may be done. My question is related to that Table 4 chart and what to look at when doing focused CRs in any given BASIC, given that the CRASH BASIC is not listed. If one was to do a focused CR on the Crash BASIC only, what parts are to be reviewed?

Answer

The discretion to choose full or focused CRs for carriers with only the Crash Indicator in alert status is based on the intent/direction of the Significant Crash Memo. Employees making assignments should use data from the Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS), the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS), and other available sources while making assignment type and scope for carriers in alert status in only the Crash Indicator.

Assignment Considerations:

  • When was the carrier contacted with a safety audit or compliance review (CR)?
    • If the carrier has never been investigated, a full CR may be the appropriate assignment.
  • What types of crashes show up in CSMS? (i.e. lane change, rear-ending, single vehicle off-road, etc.)
    • Are the crash types consistent with or possibly connected to or indicative of noncompliance (e.g. rear-end crashes could indicate medical issues, Hours-of-Service (HOS), fatigue issues, or brake and related maintenance problems; single vehicle off-road could indicate medical problems, steering issues and related maintenance problems, or driving too fast for conditions within the Unsafe Driving BASIC)?
    • Were post-crash level 1 inspections conducted? What violations were noted?
  • What are the carrier’s BASIC percentiles in CSMS? Are the percentiles approaching the established thresholds in the other BASICs that are not alert? (e.g. Are they within 10 percentile points of the threshold? -note, 10 is just a suggestion)
    • If the carrier is within the set percentile points of the threshold (as described above, e.g. within 10 points of the threshold), a full CR may be the best assignment.
  • What are the percentiles of the drivers in DSMS for each BASIC? Do one or two BASIC(s) stand out? Are poor-performing drivers also the drivers involved in the crashes that caused the carrier to be in alert status in the Crash Indicator?

The example below illustrates how to use information gathered from various sources (e.g. DSMS, SMS, past reviews) to determine which parts to review for a focused CR on a carrier with an alert in only the Crash Indicator:

Example: Carrier A, a non-HM, non-passenger carrier has exceeded the alert status in the Crash BASIC only and has come up for assignment in the Portal. Carrier A has four crashes and two of those crashes also had a post-crash level 1 inspection conducted. During those inspections, Part 395 violations were noted on the inspection reports. The carrier has a Fatigued Driving BASIC percentile of 63 and all other BASICs are below the 30th percentile.

The carrier had a CR conducted 13 months ago and currently has a “Satisfactory” safety rating. As part of the decision-making process, the manager looks into the DSMS and clicks on the Fatigued Driving (HOS) BASIC to see who and how many poor performing drivers are at or above the 50th percentile. The carrier has three of the four drivers involved in crashes above the 75th percentile in Fatigued Driving.

With this kind of information, the manager could assign a focused CR on the Fatigued Driving BASIC and focus the sample on drivers involved in crashes that caused the deficiency in accordance with e-FOTM sampling protocol. If the drivers involved do not have records available because the crashes are older than six months, select those within six months.

9. Do the changes to the display of Safety Measurement System (SMS) Website include changes to the SMS methodology?

Answer

No. This set of SMS changes, announced in a Federal Register Notice, focused on the display of information on the SMS Website (outlined in this guidance document) and does not make changes to the methodology itself.

10. Question #14 of the Policy Clarifications states that the non-Test States that are in Phase I are not to use the new recommendations in CAPRI (i.e. BASIC: Fatigued Driving, BASIC: Unsafe Driving, etc.). However, in CAPRI there is a ‘mandatory recommendations’ in the Recommendations drop-down box. Should SIs in non-Test States performing Phase I CSA investigations use the ‘mandatory recommendations’ in CAPRI?

Answer

For now, in CAPRI, SIs in non-Test States should use the “Mandatory Rcmds” drop-down box in Recommendations. The BASIC-specific selections and the “CSA Remedies All” selections should only be used by the Test States.

11. Is it public knowledge of how and when we determine if we are going to conduct a focused or comprehensive review? I have received this question a few times and carriers want to be able to look at their SMS data and know whether they could be getting a review soon. Is FMCSA’s guidance that we follow available for the public?

Answer

The agency does not publicly provide information on the prioritization of carriers or the type of action that may be taken (this is handled the same way it was pre-CSA with the eFOTM not being public information). In responding to the carrier, we would suggest that you explain that in general a carrier will receive a warning letter as a first step. After the issuance of the warning letter, a monitoring period will begin, at which point the agency monitors alert BASICs and serious violations as part of determining further investigations. The timing and type of any further action will depend on carrier performance and office workload.

SIs and Managers are expected to follow the business rules prescribed, however, the business rules that have been established for CSA (and the prioritization/investigation in the past pre-CSA) do not bind the agency from taking appropriate action, so it is impossible to say who exactly or how exactly a carrier will be investigated in general terms.

12. Why does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) website include information from other FMCSA systems including licensing and insurance status, safety ratings, and penalties history information?

Answer

The SMS website includes licensing and insurance status, safety rating, and penalties history information to meet stakeholder requests to have this information in the same place as the SMS’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) data. This information has always been available on FMCSA’s other public websites. The SMS display changes simply provide allow all of the information to be accessed from one website.

13. We have instances where carriers contacted us regarding serious violations; the carrier has sent in information to office to show that they corrected the action –what do we do? Will there be a way to fix it?

Answer

A carrier will “own” that violation publicly for a full year regardless of whether they sent in a corrective action. Moving forward, in Phase II we will be able to mark the record to verify that violation has been corrected so that it will not impact prioritization. However, even in Phase II the BASIC is at alert status for 12 months regardless of whether corrective action is submitted.

14. How does a carrier receive a safety rating?

Answer

Carriers can only receive safety ratings following an on-site investigation (i.e., a compliance review as defined in 49 CFR Part 385) conducted at the carrier’s place of business. The rating is either Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory. The safety rating methodology can be found in 49 CFR Part 385 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. A safety rating is issued to a carrier based on the results of the last on-site investigation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may upgrade the safety rating if a carrier prevails in an administrative review proceeding as outlined in § 385.15. Additionally, the carrier may request FMCSA to upgrade the rating by demonstrating required corrective action as outlined in § 385.17. In accordance to §§ 385.11 and 385.13, motor carriers that receive a final Unsatisfactory rating are deemed to be ‘unfit’ and are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

15. What are the safety ratings a carrier can receive and what do they mean?

Answer

FMCSA issues three potential safety ratings as defined below. A carrier may only receive a Satisfactory safety rating as defined at 49 CFR § 385.3 from an on-site investigation (i.e., a compliance review as defined in 49 CFR Part 385) that examined the full scope of the safety fitness standard elements set forth at 49 CFR § 385.5. A carrier may receive a Conditional or Unsatisfactory safety rating from an on-site investigation that examines either the full scope or only specific elements of the safety fitness standard set forth at 49 CFR § 385.5.

  • Satisfactory – The carrier received an on-site investigation indicating that safety controls are sufficient to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard.
  • Conditional – The carrier received an on-site investigation indicating that safety controls are inadequate but have not yet resulted in violation of the safety fitness standard.
  • Unsatisfactory – The carrier received an on-site investigation indicating that management controls are inadequate and have resulted in violations of the safety fitness standard. 49 CFR 385.3. A motor carrier with a final rating of “unsatisfactory” is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. 49 CFR 385.13(a).

16. How can a carrier have a “satisfactory” safety rating but exceed an intervention threshold in a BASIC?

Answer

The purpose of the Safety Measurement System (SMS) is to identify carriers for intervention, to assist the Agency in using its limited resources to investigate those carriers with the greatest rate of non-compliance and crash risk. The SMS percentile rankings reflect a carrier’s performance relative to other carriers at a point in time and are not a federal safety fitness rating.

A Safety Rating can only be issued at the conclusion of an on-site investigation resulting in one of three possible ratings (1) “satisfactory” – indicating that management controls are sufficient to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard, (2) “conditional” – indicating that safety controls are inadequate but have not yet resulted in violation of the safety fitness standard, or (3) “unsatisfactory” – indicating that management controls are inadequate and have resulted in violations of the safety fitness standard. 49 CFR 385.3. A motor carrier rated “unsatisfactory” is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. 49 CFR 385.13(a).

Congress gave FMCSA statutory authority to determine the safety fitness of motor vehicle operators (49 U.S.C. 31144). FMCSA has established federal motor carrier safety standards (49 C.F.R. Parts 390 – 399), procedures for conducting an on-site investigation (i.e., a compliance review as defined in 49 CFR Part 385) of whether a carrier is in compliance with these safety standards (49 C.F.R. Part 385), and criteria for assigning the carrier a specific safety rating (49 C.F.R. 385.3).

The SMS does not affect a carrier’s safety rating, which means that a carrier can have a “satisfactory” safety rating but exceed an intervention threshold in a BASIC. SMS uses aggregated safety and compliance data to assess and rank carriers on a monthly basis for enforcement prioritization purposes. It is intended to identify the specific areas in which a carrier has regulatory compliance or safety problems so that the carrier can be prioritized for intervention.

17. How do I know if a carrier has the appropriate licensing and insurance?

Answer

Users can view a carrier’s or broker’s licensing and insurance information in the licensing and insurance table on the new Safety Measurement System (SMS) display. This table lists the types of interstate operating authority a company has, such as property, passengers, household goods (moving companies), or broker.

A carrier or broker must provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with proof of insurance to have “Active For-Hire Authority.” Private carriers (i.e., carriers that only carry their own items and are not for hire) do not need to provide FMCSA a copy of their insurance.

Users can see if the carrier or broker has provided evidence of insurance for “Active For-Hire Authority” by checking the “Minimum Insurance on File” column. When SMS displays the following message: “U.S. DOT# (XX) has no current for-hire operating authority with FMCSA,” the carrier is not eligible for For-Hire operations.

Below is a sample licensing and insurance table from the new SMS display. More detailed licensing and insurance information can be obtained from FMCSA’s Licensing and Insurance system (http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/).

Licensing and Insurance as of 4/15/2013
Active For-Hire AuthorityMinimum Insurance On File?
TypeY/NMC#
PropertyYes12345Yes
PassengerNo  
Household GoodsNo12358No
BrokerYes12589Yes

18. Why doesn’t the new Carrier Overview page show percentile ranks for each Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The new Carrier Overview page indicates if a carrier has a BASIC prioritized for intervention with the symbol . There are two reasons why this could occur; (1) the carrier exceeds the Intervention Threshold or (2) the carrier had Acute and/or Critical Violations noted during the most recent investigation. Users can still view specific percentile ranks for each BASIC by selecting each specific BASIC.

19. Why does the new Safety Measurement System (SMS) display reorder the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reordered the BASICs in the SMS display in response to stakeholder requests to recognize distinctions between each BASIC and crash rate based on the results of the SMS Effectiveness Test. The complete report is available here. The display orders the BASICs according to each BASIC’s relationship with crash rate. The BASICs located on the left are most closely related to high crash rate; this relationship decreases moving from left to right.

20. Who is in my safety event group?

Answer

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) determines a Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) on-road performance percentile for each motor carrier within each BASIC based on how it ranks relative to other carriers with a similar number of safety events (i.e., inspections, violations, or crashes). The new SMS display highlights carrier safety event groups to address carriers’ requests to know which carriers they are being compared to and to clarify that the SMS is a relative system. Safety event groups are shown for the public BASICs only and are not shown for the Hazardous Materials Compliance and Crash Indicator BASICs.

21. How can I find out more about the violation(s) associated with each penalty?

Answer

Selecting the arrow key next to the date of the penalty reveals the specific violation(s) associated with the penalty.

22. Why does the new Safety Measurement System (SMS) display change the location of the graphs?

Answer

Stakeholder feedback indicated that the graphs, that were also available in the previous version of SMS Online, provide important information on a carrier’s measure. The measure is not relative, and represents a carrier’s performance without comparison to others’ performance within their safety event group. The graphs are in a new location on the specific BASICs detail pages so that they are easier to find.

23. Why does the new Safety Measurement System (SMS) display show the Trends and History graphs side by side?

Answer

The Trends graph indicates how a motor carrier’s on-road performance measure has fluctuated over time using the current SMS methodology for all of its snapshots. The History graph reflects a motor carrier’s on-road performance measure at each point in time using the version of the SMS methodology that was in use when the snapshot was taken. The new SMS display allows users to view the Trends and History graphs side by side for easier comparison.

24. What does the new Inspection Results graph show me?

Answer

The new Inspection Results graph contains detailed information, including inspections with violations, inspections without violations, and average severity weights per inspection when expanded. This additional information allows users to take an in-depth look at the carrier’s safety performance trends in a given month.

25. Why does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) display offer more views in the Inspection History section?

Answer

In the new SMS display, the Inspection History section within a Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category offers three views to improve the visibility of inspections without violations: the total number of inspections for each carrier, as well as a breakdown of the number of inspections with and without violations.

26. Why does the new Inspection History section include additional information about the previous month’s safety data?

Answer

The new Inspection History section includes additional safety data to help users quickly understand why the carrier’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category measure and corresponding percentile rank changed from the previous month.

27. What can a motor carrier do to improve?

Answer

  1. Ensure compliance by being knowledgeable of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials (HM) Regulations, if applicable.
  2. Understand how your safety management contributes to your safety problems.
  3. Check and update your MCS-150 carrier registration information whenever there is a change to your company’s profile and at least every two years, as is required by regulation.
  4. Review your inspection and crash reports data and request corrections as needed.
  5. Educate yourself and your employees on the regulations and industry best practices.

1. Ensure compliance. Take action to address trends and patterns that you find.

Learn more about the safety regulations your company has violated by reviewing the regulations and the corresponding areas in the FMCSRs:

  • Unsafe Driving — FMCSR Parts 392 and 397
  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance — FMCSR Parts 392 and 395
  • Driver Fitness — FMCSR Parts 383 and 391
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol — FMCSR Parts 382 and 392
  • Vehicle Maintenance — FMCSR Parts 392, 393 and 396
  • HM Compliance — FMCSR Part 397 and U.S. Department of Transportation HM regulations Parts 171, 172, 173, 177, 178, 179 & 180.

Review FMCSA’s educational and technical assistance document, A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety. This document contains useful information for both drivers and carriers.



 NOTE: Please do not use this guide as a substitute for the FMCSRs. You should consult the FMCSRs, which are updated quarterly online.

2. Understand how your safety management contributes to your safety problems. Systematically assess your company’s safety management practices and make improvements where necessary.



It is important for you to consider how safety will be achieved within your organization. Putting this in place begins with developing processes that incorporate safety into every aspect of your operation. Whether you are just starting out, or you have an established company, you should have safety-minded business practices. These will help make sure that you follow Federal regulations. Having these in place can save lives and reduce injuries. They can also improve your company’s bottom line by saving time and money on paying fines and responding to regulatory compliance issues. They can also reduce the financial cost of crashes. FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC) to help with this process. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to each of the BASICs here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/HelpCenter/Resources.aspx?type=topic&vID=44546. To help identify areas that are causing your safety breakdowns, use the SMC and ask yourself these questions:

POLICIES AND PROCEDURESOperational rules and processes for a motor carrier and its employees.

  1. Do you have policies and/or procedures in place for all areas of safety, especially those FMCSA has noted as weaknesses?
    • Are your policies and procedures clearly defined for all the safety management processes noted below: roles and responsibilities; qualifications and hiring; training and communication; monitoring and tracking; and meaningful action?
    • Are they updated to match the current environment and align with regulations or other company policies?
    • Are they realistic? If implemented as stated, would they achieve intended goals?
    • Are they documented? How are they communicated?

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIESExpectations and assignment of duties for a motor carrier and its employees.

  1. Are the roles and responsibilities of employees in your company clearly defined?
  2. Are the roles and responsibilities effective as defined?
    • Are they complete? Do they cover all policies and procedures?
    • Are they updated to match the current environment and align with policies and procedures?
    • Are they realistic? As defined, will they achieve intended goals? Are they documented? How are they communicated?

QUALIFICATIONS AND HIRINGFinding and qualifying people for the defined roles and responsibilities.

Hiring

  1. Are your job descriptions well written? Do the job listings have adequate visibility? Are you getting enough applicants?
  2. Do the wrong people apply for the job because the job description does not match the real job?

Qualifications

  1. Have you hired employees who are not qualified for the position due to:
    • lack of background investigation, or
    • lack of, or poor understanding of, the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed for the job?

TRAINING AND COMMUNICATIONOngoing process to ensure that a motor carrier and its employees have the proper skills and knowledge to complete their jobs.

Training

  1. Do you have training in place?
  2. Is your training adequate and effective?
    • Have you conducted a comprehensive assessment of training needs?
    • Does your training method and approach match content?
    • Are your participants evaluated to see if they understand training material?
    • Was anything (or enough) done to support training in the field?

Communication

  1. Are you communicating effectively with your employees?
  2. Are there consistent and open channels of communication within your organization?
  3. Do your communication methods match the needs of the situation? Frequency? Understandable format? Language?

MONITORING AND TRACKINGEnsuring that a motor carrier and its employees are in compliance with policies and procedures and roles and responsibilities.

  1. Do you have a process for monitoring and tracking your employees?
  2. Are you monitoring and tracking frequently enough?
  3. Are you documenting any behavior monitoring adequately?
  4. Is the right behavior being tracked?

MEANINGFUL ACTIONProviding positive reinforcement for, or aiming at improving or correcting, employee behavior.

  1. Are you able to effectively assess the monitoring and tracking data and select the appropriate meaningful action?
  2. Are you implementing refresher training when appropriate?
  3. Are you implementing a disciplinary process when appropriate?
  4. Are you implementing an incentive reward and recognition program?
  5. Are you implementing improvements to safety management processes when monitoring and tracking data points to a safety management process breakdown?

3. Check and update your MCS-150 carrier registration information.

  1. Review your motor carrier information including address, email address, number of Power Units (PUs) and drivers, and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). Ensure that VMT reflects the previous calendar year and is accurate.
  2. Update your motor carrier registration information (MCS-150) if any data needs to be corrected.

4. Review your inspection and crash reports data and request corrections as needed. Review your reports through the SMS Website.

  1. Do all of the inspection and crash reports belong to your company? Is any of the data included in these reports incorrect? Remember that all safety-based violations count, not just out-of-service violations.
  2. If you think any of the data is erroneous, request corrections through FMCSA’s DataQs system. The DataQs program allows motor carriers and drivers to request a data review of information that resides in FMCSA databases.

5. Educate yourself and your employees! Visit the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Website to learn more about CSA.

  1. Subscribe to the RSS feed or email list to stay connected on the latest CSA news and information.
  2. Educate your drivers!
    1. Hand out the Driver Factsheet (PDF, 399 KB). This factsheet tells drivers what they need to know about CSA and what they can do to prepare for the change.
    2. Review with drivers FMCSA’s CMV Web-Based Driving Tips. This website was developed to raise the consciousness of CMV drivers about common driving errors and to provide valuable driving tips through an easily accessible tool: the Internet. Fleet safety managers can also use this website for their driver training programs. These tips offer preventive measures that drivers can take to help avoid crashes.
    3. Fleet safety managers can also leverage the SIRs available within the SMS. SIRs is a compilation of articles, reports, and other tools designed to assist motor carriers with improving their current safety management practices. SIRs are searchable by resource number, BASIC, or safety management practice.

28. How can a carrier improve in the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The Unsafe Driving BASIC includes operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in a dangerous or careless manner. Example violations include speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Parts 392 and 397). The following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) resources can help motor carriers improve their Unsafe Driving BASIC measure:

FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). The SMC helps carriers determine their organizational breakdowns that are causing the carriers’ safety violations. The SMC has its own webpage located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About/SMC_Overview.aspx. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to the Unsafe Driving BASIC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_019_UnsafeDriv_SMC.pdf.

29. How can carriers successfully navigate the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program?

Answer

There are several steps that carriers can take to successfully navigate the CSA program.

Check, update, and review your records:

  • Ensure that your Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) is up-to-date and accurate. Pay special attention to the number of Power Units and Vehicle Miles Traveled that are used in some of the Safety Measurement System (SMS) calculations.
  • Monitor and review your Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) status that includes your on-road performance, inspection and crash data, as well as your investigation results in the SMS and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Portal.
  • Maintain copies of inspection reports and evidence related to any observed violations, and request a review of any potentially incorrect data using DataQs.

Ensure compliance:

  • Review your inspection and violation history for the past two years. Identify patterns, trends, and areas that need improvement and address them now.
  • Examine your business processes to determine how they may be contributing to any safety compliance issues by using the Safety Management Cycle.
  • Make sure your drivers know that inspections are more important than ever, all violations count in the SMS, not just out-of-service violations, and that their performance impacts their Pre-Employment Screening Program records and the SMS record of the carrier they are working for.
  • Read over the FMCSA FAQs that help carriers improve compliance in general, as well as for each BASIC: Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Hazardous Materials Compliance, and Driver Fitness.

Visit the CSA Website:

30. Why didn’t my MCS-150 update show up in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

The new SMS data updates once a month. A snapshot of the data is taken on the third or last Friday of each month, and it takes approximately 10 days to process and validate the data before it is updated on the website. The snapshot date is located above the summary of the Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category percentile ranks in the SMS. The likely reason that your MCS-150 data is not up-to-date in SMS is that you made the change after the date of the snapshot.

31. Which carriers are included in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates all carriers throughout North America that haul loads over 10,000 lbs. and travel interstate. FMCSA also regulates carriers that haul hazardous materials intrastate. These are the carriers that are included in the SMS.

32. What data does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) use?

Answer

The SMS evaluates the safety of individual motor carriers by considering all safety-based roadside inspection violations, not just out-of service violations, as well as State-reported crashes, using 24 months of performance data.

33. How long are violations/crashes on my Safety Measurement System (SMS) results?

Answer

Any violation or crash that occurred within the previous 24 months of performance data is considered when determining the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) measure. However, inspections, violations, and crashes are time weighted when they are included in the SMS calculations. Events that have occurred within 6 months of the SMS run date receive the highest time weight (they are multiplied times 3), events greater than 6 months but less than or equal to 12 months are assigned less time weight (they are multiplied times 2), and events that occurred greater than 12 months from the SMS run date are assigned the smallest time weight (they are multiplied times 1). Details are explained in the SMS Methodology document.

34. How does a driver’s violation history impact a carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) evaluation?

Answer

Carriers are evaluated only on inspections and crashes associated with their own U.S. DOT Number, so only violations that a driver receives while working for a motor carrier apply to that carrier’s SMS evaluation. Therefore, the driver’s violation history before the driver is hired and after the driver’s employment is terminated will not impact a motor carrier’s SMS results. However, even if a motor carrier terminates a driver, all of the driver’s crashes and inspection results that he or she received while operating for that carrier still apply to the carrier’s SMS evaluation for 24 months from the date of occurrence. Because the data is time-weighted, the effect of those occurrences on the motor carrier’s percentile rank will diminish over the course of the 24 months.

35. How have Roadside Inspections been improved, including getting states to upload their inspections faster?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promotes the electronic collection of inspection data by providing the software and grants for laptops to States. In general, States that are not already collecting inspection data electronically are moving in this direction. To further provide incentives to States, FMCSA has created inspection data performance measures to raise awareness of the relative speed at which States upload inspection reports. In addition, FMCSA has provided online tools to help States diagnose the reasons for any untimely submission of inspection reports. Nearly 95 percent of the over 3 million inspections conducted annually are uploaded to the FMCSA Website within FMCSA’s 21-day standard.

36. How have Roadside Inspections been improved for Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) in terms of uniformity?

Answer

Under CSA, the data collected at the roadside is more important than ever because it is used in the Safety Measurement System to assess carriers’ safety performance. Thus, inspection and crash data that are reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must meet high standards of uniformity, completeness, accuracy, and timeliness. FMCSA has organized its effort to improve data quality into four core initiatives:

  1. Train inspectors on how to make consistent documentation of roadside inspection and violation data.
  2. Standardize processes for challenging data by providing procedural guidance on the management of the roadside data challenge process through the DataQs system.
  3. Increase awareness of high-level goals of the inspection program by communicating to inspectors about how good inspections can support a systematic enforcement program and informing industry about the differences between screenings and inspections.
  4. Create a system to ensure that inspectors use a uniform inspection selection process.

37. Can a motor carrier or driver appeal a DataQs ruling?

Answer

No, there is no appeal process for DataQs at this time.

38. What are safety event groups and how are they used?

Answer

One of the ways the Safety Measurement System (SMS) accounts for the differences between carriers and their operations is to place carriers in safety event groups based on the number of safety events (e.g., inspections, crashes) in which the carriers have been involved.

Safety event groups enable SMS to deal with the widely diverse motor carrier population, while ensuring that similarly situated carriers are treated with the same standards. Safety event groups do not compare carriers by the commodities they haul or their industry segment.

For a detailed description and examples of the safety event groups for each Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, please refer to the SMS Methodology document.

39. Why does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) use segmentation and how does it work?

Answer

The SMS uses segmentation within the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to account for carrier differences by placing the carrier population into two groups based on the types of vehicles operated. Carriers are grouped by the following two vehicle types/operations:

  1. Combo Segment — Combination trucks/motor coach buses constituting 70 percent or more of the total Power Units (PUs) (vehicles).
  2. Straight Segment — Straight trucks/other vehicles constituting more than 30 percent of the total PUs (vehicles).

The segmentation of motor carriers means that companies who have fundamentally different types of vehicles/operations are not compared to each other.

For a detailed description and examples of the safety event groupings by and for each BASIC, please refer to the SMS Methodology document.

40. What is a Power Unit (PU) and how does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) use this information?

Answer

PUs are recorded in the motor carrier registration data (MCS-150) on file. PUs may include vehicle types such as trucks, tractors, hazardous material tank trucks, motor coaches, and school buses.

The number of PUs a carrier has is used in part to account for each motor carrier’s level of on-road exposure when calculating the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). SMS calculates the average number of PUs for each carrier by using (1) the carrier’s current number of PUs, plus (2) the number of PUs the carrier had 6 months ago, plus (3) the number of PUs the carrier had 18 months ago divided by 3. The average PUs numbers along with annual Vehicle Miles Traveled information are used as a measure of exposure to estimate the number of PUs operated over a 24-month time period when traffic enforcement violations (used in the Unsafe Driving BASIC measure) or reportable crashes (used in the Crash Indicator) could have occurred. Due to the potentially significant changes in exposure of individual carriers over the course of 24 months (via downsizing, mergers, etc.), an average number of PUs provides a more accurate estimate of vehicle exposure for carriers that have updated their MCS-150 motor carrier registration information.

Please refer to the SMS Methodology document for additional information and an example of the average PU calculation.

41. What are Acute and Critical Violations?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) includes investigation findings (e.g., what FMCSA or State Partners find during a motor carrier investigation) when assessing Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) performance. The Investigation Results Details tab provided in the Safety Measurement System Website displays an “Acute/Critical Violation Found” icon when an investigation conducted within the previous 12 months resulted in the discovery of Acute and/or Critical Violations within a BASIC. Acute and Critical Violations are defined below.

Acute Violations

  • Violations where noncompliance is so severe that they require immediate corrective action by a motor carrier, regardless of its overall safety posture (e.g., failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substance testing program).

Critical Violations

  • Violations which relate directly to the carrier’s management and/or operational controls and are indicative of breakdowns in a carrier’s management controls (pattern of violations, e.g., false reports of records of duty status).

The “Acute/Critical Violation Found” icon will be displayed in the carrier’s Investigation Results for the BASIC for 12 months following the date of the investigation. Select this link to view the list of Acute and Critical Violations.

42. What is a warning letter, and what should a motor carrier do after receiving one?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Headquarters sends warning letters to motor carriers. A warning letter notifies a motor carrier that its safety performance data shows a lack of compliance with motor carrier safety regulations. The warning letter lists the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) where the carrier’s performance indicates safety issues and encourages the carrier to look at its Safety Measurement System (SMS) data online.

Carriers do not need to respond in writing to FMCSA after receiving a warning letter. FMCSA encourages motor carriers to log in to the SMS to examine their data, focusing their attention first on the BASICs that are over or near the Intervention Threshold. Carriers should also consider doing all of the following:

  • Ensure accuracy of data. Ensure that all the data listed is accurate and belongs to their U.S. DOT Number. If data is potentially incorrect, they can submit a request for data review through DataQs.
  • Examine violation types. Examine the summary of the violations that they are receiving and notice which violations occur most frequently and those with the highest severity weights. These are two data points that should help carriers determine their next steps.
  • Conduct detailed data analysis. Download violation data into an Excel spreadsheet for further analysis. Sort the data by driver, date, location of inspection, vehicle, vehicle type, and violation. Analyze the data for any trends to determine the root cause(s) of any safety problem(s), and review findings with their management team. For more information on how to conduct detailed analysis, check out this FAQ.
  • Address identified safety issues. Develop and execute strategies to improve compliance with safety regulations to prevent more intensive interventions. FMCSA has developed tools and resources that may assist motor carriers with this process. These tools are referenced in this FAQ.
  • Periodically review SMS data. Review SMS data monthly to monitor progress.
  • Review the Warning Letter Factsheet.

43. How do I change my Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) data, such as Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) or Power Units (PUs)?

Answer

Although motor carriers have to update their MCS-150 form every two years, motor carriers should understand that this is just the minimum requirement; motor carriers may update their MCS-150 form at any time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration encourages carriers to update their MCS-150 any time there is a change in their data. Since the Safety Measurement System (SMS) uses VMT and PU data, motor carriers should update their form at least once a year. Motor carriers can update their MCS-150 data here by selecting “I need to update my U.S. DOT Number registration information or file my biennial update” and following the instructions. Instructions for updating your MCS-150 form are available here.

The SMS updates monthly. MCS-150 changes will not appear immediately in the SMS, but changes will likely show up the following month. However, MCS-150 updates should show up more quickly on the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System Website.

44. What is a Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP)? Are motor carriers required to develop a CSP?

Answer

The CSP is a structured plan for safety improvements based upon the underlying factors causing the carrier to have a symbol in any given Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category. It is a voluntary plan on the part of the carrier to improve its safety performance. A carrier may submit a handwritten or an electronic version of its CSP.

45. How does the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) handle crashes?

Answer

FMCSA uses the current safety rating process outlined in 49 CFR Part 385, which determines a carrier’s safety fitness through an Onsite Investigation. Safety rating information is available on the SAFER Website.

46. Why does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) hold carriers responsible for driver errors, such as speeding?

Answer

Motor carriers are held accountable for driver errors because they are responsible for the job performance of those who work for them. This is a longstanding Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration position and is not unique to Compliance, Safety, Accountability or the new SMS.

47. Where can a motor carrier get more information on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program?

Answer

There are several websites where a motor carrier can find additional information on FMCSA and the CSA program. Specific links are highlighted below:

FMCSA

  1. FMCSA Website
  2. FMCSA Regulations
  3. A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety
  4. Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program
  5. Resources for Carrier Companies
  6. Resources for Drivers

CSA

  1. CSA Help Center
  2. CSA FAQs
  3. CSA Factsheet
  4. CSA Industry Briefing PowerPoint Presentation

Safety Measurement System (SMS)

  1. Carrier SMS Factsheet
  2. Appendix A of the Carrier SMS Methodology – Violation Severity by Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category

CSA Information for Drivers

  1. Get Road Smart: CSA and Drivers PowerPoint Presentation
  2. CSA Driver Safety Education Center
  3. CSA Just the Facts Factsheet
  4. CSA Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Factsheet
  5. CSA Driver Safety Enforcement Factsheet

48. How can a carrier improve in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC includes operation of commercial motor vehicles by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Example violations include use or possession of controlled substances or alcohol (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Parts 382 and 392). The following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) resources can assist motor carriers in ways by which to improve the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC measure:

FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). The SMC helps carriers determine their organizational breakdowns that are causing the carriers’ safety violations. The SMC has its own webpage located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About/SMC_Overview.aspx. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to the Controlled Substance and Alcohol BASIC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_022_Sub_Alc_SMC.pdf.

49. What are targeted roadside inspections?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides roadside inspectors with data that identifies a carrier’s specific compliance problems, by Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, based on the motor carrier’s Safety Measurement System results. Targeted roadside inspections occur at permanent and temporary roadside inspection locations.

50. How do I determine if a violation will count against a carrier, a driver, or both in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

The SMS uses all safety-based violations recorded during roadside inspections to evaluate safety. A list of these violations can be found in Appendix A of the SMS Methodology document. All of the violations in Appendix A count against the motor carrier. A subset of these violations is applied to evaluate driver safety in cases where the commercial motor vehicle driver is also responsible in part for the occurrence. This subset of violations is noted in the “Driver Responsible” column in Appendix A of the Carrier SMS Methodology document, and is also noted in Appendix A of the Driver SMS Methodology document.

At present, only enforcement personnel who are conducting motor carrier investigations use the driver safety assessment tool in the SMS. The new tool enables Safety Investigators to focus on drivers with poor safety performance histories when they are investigating a motor carrier.

51. Where can roadside inspection data be viewed?

Answer

Motor carriers can view an electronic duplicate of all of their inspections through the Safety Measurement System, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Portal, or SAFER. Motor carriers that want a physical copy of inspection reports must contact the State agency where the inspection occurred or enter an inspection report request through the DataQs System.

52. What is a pre-inspection screening?

Answer

A pre-inspection screening, which takes less time than an actual safety inspection, may take many forms. It may include, but not necessarily be limited to, a cursory check of the vehicle. These cursory checks are commonly confused with a complete safety inspection. If an enforcement officer conducts only a pre-inspection screening, then a safety inspection report will not be generated. It is also important to note that different enforcement jurisdictions may use different methods to select or screen a vehicle for a safety inspection. There are strict criteria regarding what needs to be done for a roadside inspection report to be generated. If the pre-screening doesn’t meet those criteria, no report will be generated. Keep in mind that an inspection usually takes a lot longer than a pre-screening and involves much more intense scrutiny of the driver and/or the vehicle. A driver can request an inspection, but it is up to the roadside inspector to determine if he or she will give one or not.

53. How do I sign up for the Portal?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Portal allows users to register using your U.S. DOT Number and U.S. DOT PIN. For questions about the Portal, contact compass@dot.gov or call 800-832-5660.

54. Where can I find the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations?

Answer

FMCSA’s regulations can be found here. FMCSA’s A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety is also designed to assist motor carriers in understanding and complying with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

55. Does Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) make Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) mandatory?

Answer

CSA does not mandate event/log recorders. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently issued a new rule about mandating EOBRs for truck and bus companies with serious Hours-of-Service violations.

56. Who can help me answer non-Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) questions?

Answer

Most FMCSA questions that are unrelated to CSA can be answered either by FMCSA Headquarters at 1-800-832-5660 or by State FMCSA field offices.

57. I’m having problems signing in to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Website to see my data. What should I do?

Answer

Motor carriers need a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-issued U.S. DOT Number and a U.S. DOT PIN (not a Docket PIN) to access the SMS Website. If you are experiencing difficulties, please review the information below before contacting the SMS web team for assistance.

  • If you don’t have a U.S. DOT Number:
    You cannot access the password-protected part of the SMS Website.
  • If you are a driver looking to see your own data:
    Driver data is not available through the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. To obtain a copy of your inspection and/or crash history data, visit the Pre-Employment Screening Program Website.
  • If you do not have a U.S. DOT PIN or don’t know what it is:
    You can request one via https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and follow the instructions on the page. You can also call 800-832-5660 for assistance.
  • If you have a PIN, but it doesn’t work:
    1. Make sure you are using your U.S. DOT PIN and not your Docket PIN. Only the U.S. DOT PIN will work on the SMS Website.
    2. Verify that you are typing in your PIN correctly. Often the problem is a typo or a misreading of one or more characters. For example, users sometimes mistake the letter “O” for the number “0” or the letter “l” for the number “1,” etc. Try all possible combinations before going to the next step.
    3. Ensure that no one else in your company has changed your PIN by requesting a new one.
    4. If the above options fail, then you should request a new U.S. DOT PIN via https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and follow the instructions on the page.
  • If you need additional PIN assistance:
    Assistance with U.S. DOT PIN issues can be obtained by calling FMCSA technical support at 800-832-5660 during normal business hours.

58. Which violations from crashes are used in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

Only pre-existing violations from post-crash inspections are used in the SMS. Violations recorded in the Motor Carrier Management Information System as being attributed to the crash are not used.

59. Why does the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) deal only with trucks, when 4-wheelers are causing a lot of the crashes?

Answer

The Federal government does hold the general public accountable for its role in all accidents, including those with trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deals with the general motoring public. FMCSA also has a program that deals with aggressive drivers called Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks.

60. What if a motor carrier has an inactive U.S. DOT Number?

Answer

Assistance with an inactive U.S. DOT Number can be obtained by calling the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Information Line at 800-832-5660 during normal business hours.

61. What are the intervention thresholds for each BASIC?

Answer

The Intervention Thresholds for carriers are organized by BASIC and are set based on a given BASIC’s relationship to crash risk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s analysis has shown that the strongest relationship to crash risk is found with high percentiles in the Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance and Crash Indicator BASICs. Therefore, these higher risk BASICs have a lower threshold for interventions than the other BASICs. Currently, the Intervention Thresholds are as follows:

BASICIntervention Thresholds
PassengerHMGeneral
Unsafe Driving, HOS Compliance, Crash Indicator≥50%≥60%≥65%
Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance≥65%≥75%≥80%
HM Compliance≥80%≥80%≥80%

62. How can a motor carrier receive an Unsatisfactory safety rating?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses the safety rating methodology as outlined in 49 CFR Part 385 and will continue to use this methodology until the rulemaking process for the proposed Safety Fitness Determination is completed. Under the current process, a motor carrier will receive an Unsatisfactory safety rating following an Onsite Investigation if FMCSA determines that the carrier’s safety management controls fail to meet the safety fitness standard outlined in 49 CFR Part 385.

63. How can a carrier improve in the Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The HOS Compliance BASIC addresses requirements in Parts 392 and 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that relate to the operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in noncompliance with the HOS regulations. This BASIC includes violations of regulations pertaining to records of duty status (RODS) as they relate to HOS requirements and the management of CMV driver fatigue. Example violations include exceeding HOS, maintaining incomplete or inaccurate RODS, and operating a CMV while ill or fatigued. The following resources can help motor carriers improve their percentile in this BASIC:

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program’s Safety Management Cycle (SMC) tool helps carriers determine the organizational breakdowns that are causing safety problems. Carriers can visit the CSA Website to learn more about the tool and how to use it. Carriers can also download an overview of the SMC here and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical process breakdowns in the HOS Compliance BASIC here.

64. How can a carrier improve in the Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The following crash countermeasure resources can assist motor carriers in ways by which to improve the Crash Indicator BASIC measure:

Motor-Carrier-Management-Related:

Driver-Related:

Vehicle-Related:

FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). The SMC helps carriers determine their organizational breakdowns that are causing the carriers’ safety violations. The SMC has its own webpage located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About/SMC_Overview.aspx. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to the Crash Indicator BASIC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_018_CrashIndic_SMC.pdf.

65. How can a carrier improve in the Driver Fitness Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The Driver Fitness BASIC includes operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications. Example violations include failing to have a valid and appropriate Commercial Driver’s License and being medically unqualified to operate a CMV (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Parts 383 and 391). The following resources can assist motor carriers in ways by which to improve the Driver Fitness BASIC measure:

=FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). The SMC helps carriers determine their organizational breakdowns that are causing the carriers’ safety violations. The SMC has its own webpage located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About/SMC_Overview.aspx. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to the Driver Fitness BASIC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_021_Fitness_SMC.pdf.

66. The carrier I work for is behaving illegally. How should I handle this?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a complaint system set up to deal with carriers that are behaving illegally. To submit complaints, visit the National Consumer Complaint Database.

67. Are there new regulations regarding a driver’s body mass index (BMI), body fat ratio, weight, neck size, and sleep apnea?

Answer

Despite rumors to the contrary, no. While research was recently released stating that a driver’s BMI is a risk factor for identifying sleep apnea, neither the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) nor the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program currently has any rules that restrict who can be a commercial motor vehicle driver based on BMI or weight, or neck size. For more information view FMCSA’s Spotlight on Sleep Apnea.

68. How are the Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile ranks calculated?

Answer

SMS evaluates the safety of individual motor carriers by considering all safety-based roadside inspection violations, not just out-of service violations, as well as State-reported crashes, using 24 months of performance data. SMS assesses motor carriers’ safety performance in each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Hazardous Materials Compliance, and Crash Indicator.

SMS calculates a measure for each BASIC by combining the time and severity weighted violations/crashes (more recent violations are weighted more heavily), normalized by exposure, which is a statistical calculation that allows SMS to make a fair comparison between carriers with different levels of activity (e.g., a hybrid of the number of Power Units per Vehicle Miles Traveled or the number of relevant inspections). The SMS converts each carrier’s BASIC measures into percentiles based on rank relative to carriers with similar safety event groupings (i.e., number of relevant inspections, number of inspections with violations, or number of crashes).

The SMS is updated monthly, taking a snapshot of data on the third or last Friday of each month, and takes approximately 10 business days to process and validate the data before it is uploaded on the website. These dates are estimates and are subject to change; if there are problems with the validation, the process could take longer than expected.

To understand more about the BASICS, review the SMS factsheet and briefings on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Website. For even more detail, review the SMS Methodology document. The document outlines which values are assigned for each violation and how they are weighted in Appendix A, starting on page A-4 in the SMS Methodology document.

69. How does time-weighting work?

Answer

Violations are impacted by time severity; that is, more recent violations are weighted more heavily. Violations that occurred within the last six months count three times, violations that occurred between six months and a year ago count twice, and violations between one and two years old count only once. After two years, violations do not count at all in the Safety Measurement System.

70. When 392.2 violations are listed on the roadside inspection report, how can a user determine which Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) they apply to and their severity weights?

Answer

Roadside inspection reports contain all specific 392.2 local laws cited, but the Safety Measurement System (SMS) uses only 392.2 violations that translate with a specific letter suffix (i.e., 392.2C, 392.2S). If the violation is a 392.2 (with no letter suffix), then the SMS does not use it. If it has a suffix and it is not listed in the table below, the SMS does not use it.

SectionViolation Description Shown on Roadside InspectionSeverity Weight
Unsafe Driving BASIC:
392.2CFailure to obey traffic control device5
392.2DHHeadlamps – Failing to dim when required3
392.2FCFollowing too close5
392.2LCImproper lane change5
392.2LVLane restriction violation3
392.2PImproper passing5
392.2PKUnlawfully parking and/or leaving vehicle in the roadway1
392.2RReckless driving10
392.2RRRailroad grade crossing violation5
392.2SSpeeding (After 1/1/11)1
392.2-SLLS2State/Local Laws – Speeding 6-10 miles per hour over the speed limit4
392.2-SLLS3State/Local Laws – Speeding 11-14 miles per hour over the speed limit7
392.2-SLLS4State/Local Laws – Speeding 15 or more miles per hour over the speed limit10
392.2-SLLSWZState/Local Laws – Speeding in a work/construction zone10
392.2-SLLTState/Local Laws – Operating a commercial motor vehicle while texting10
392.2TImproper turns5
392.2YFailure to yield right-of-way5
Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC:
392.2HState/Local HOS7
Vehicle Maintenance BASIC:
392.2WCWheel (mud) flaps missing or defective1

71. When will the Safety Measurement System (SMS) stop identifying a motor carrier for intervention?

Answer

Carrier safety performance in the SMS is based upon the previous 24 months of on-road performance, inspection and crash data, and Acute and Critical Violations found during investigations over the last 12 months. Either on-road performance or investigation results can result in a carrier being identified for intervention.

The SMS will stop identifying motor carriers for intervention when their Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentile ranks are no longer above the Intervention Thresholds. There are three ways that this can happen:

  1. Inspections without violations at roadside demonstrate improved performance;
  2. Poor inspections will count less over time and eventually fall outside of the 24-month timeframe; and/or
  3. If the carrier goes a full year without a violation and its last inspection in a BASIC did not result in any violations. In the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs, a carrier simply needs to go a year without an incident in these two BASICs.

The SMS will stop flagging motor carriers based on Acute and Critical Violations one year after the Acute/Critical Violation was issued. Keep in mind that the SMS updates monthly, so this change will be reflected on the next SMS update after the one year timeframe has passed.

Understanding the regulations and ensuring vehicles and drivers are safe today will help keep carriers off of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s radar tomorrow.

72. Do inspections that find no violations count in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

Yes. All roadside safety inspection findings count in the SMS, regardless of whether or not the safety inspection report contains violations. Roughly one-third of the 3.5 million inspections that are uploaded to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) database each year have zero violations. Safety inspections without regulatory violations serve to improve a motor carrier’s evaluation in the SMS.

Carriers and drivers should be aware that not every law enforcement stop is a safety inspection; law enforcement may stop a vehicle to conduct a pre-inspection screening to determine if a vehicle or driver warrants closer examination. A pre-inspection screening may take many forms and may include, but not necessarily be limited to, a cursory check of the vehicle. These cursory checks are commonly confused with a complete safety inspection. If a law enforcement officer conducts only a pre-inspection screening, then a safety inspection report will not be generated. If a driver thinks that a safety inspection has been conducted, FMCSA encourages the driver or motor carrier to ask for a copy of the report to document the safety inspection.

73. Will the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) place carriers into different peer groups or weight carriers’ violations and crashes differently based on geographical region?

Answer

FMCSA does not, at this time, plan to weight inspection and crash data on a regional basis. FMCSA is committed to realizing reasonable uniformity in State reporting and coding for inspections and crashes.

74. Can you explain how safety event groups work in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

One of the ways the SMS accounts for the differences between motor carriers and their operations is by placing carriers in safety event groups based on the number of safety events (e.g., inspections, crashes) in which the carriers have been involved. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s foremost concern is safety and it accomplishes this by addressing the carriers who pose the greatest crash risk, irrespective of their industry segment.

Safety event groups enable the SMS to deal with the widely diverse motor carrier population, while ensuring that similarly situated carriers are treated with the same standards. Safety event groups do not compare carriers by the commodities they haul or their industry segment.

The tables below outline the safety event groups for each of the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and can be found in the SMS Methodology document.

Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance, Driver Fitness, and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs

Safety Event Group CategoryNumber of Relevant Inspections*
13-10 (HOS Compliance) 5-10 (Fitness, Vehicle)
211-20
321-100
4101-500
5501+

Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC

Safety Event Group CategoryNumber of Relevant Inspections*
15-10
211-15
316-40
441-100
5101+

*A relevant inspection is one where the roadside inspector reviewed a particular area for evidence of violations (not all inspection types/levels look at all areas).

Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC

Safety Event Group CategoryNumber of Inspections with Controlled Substances/Alcohol Violations
11
22
33
44+

The Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs divide the safety event groups further into two additional categories: combo and straight segments. The following is used under the SMS to determine the carrier’s segment:

  • Combo – combination trucks/motor coach buses constituting 70 percent or more of the total Power Units (PUs).
  • Straight – straight trucks/other vehicles constituting more than 30 percent of the total PUs.

Unsafe Driving BASIC

Safety Event Group CategoryCombo Segment: Number of Inspections with Unsafe Driving ViolationsStraight Segment: Number of Inspections with Unsafe Driving Violations
13-83-4
29-215-8
322-579-18
458-14919-49
5150+50+

Crash Indicator BASIC

Safety Event Group CategoryCombo Segment: Number of CrashesStraight Segment: Number of Crashes
12-32
24-63-4
37-165-8
417-459-26
546+27+

75. How can motor carriers, drivers, and other stakeholders request a review or correction of data in the Safety Measurement System?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed a specific mechanism to facilitate data reviews. Requests for data reviews (RDRs) can be made through the DataQs system, an electronic filing system that motor carriers, drivers, and the public use. The first step is to register either at the DataQs website (https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov/), or via the FMCSA Portal. Instructions for filing an RDR are provided, and include simple forms and the submission of information such as the report number, date, and time of the event, State, explanation, and supporting documentation, if needed. Once filed, the RDR and all relevant documentation are routed to the organization responsible for the data, and electronic correspondence is used to communicate with the requestor. The DataQs website is open to the public and offers an online help function to walk users through the process.

Please Note: A carrier can modify registration information (e.g., name, address, or Power Unit data) by updating the MCS-150 form.

76. Where can I find the Safety Measurement System (SMS) severity tables?

Answer

The severity points for all violations used in the SMS can be found in Appendix A of the SMS Methodology and in this MS Excel spreadsheet.

The severity weights reflect the relative importance of each violation within each particular Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC). They cannot be compared meaningfully across the various BASICs. For example, a violation with a severity weight of 7 in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC is not intended to be equivalent to a violation with a severity weight of 7 in the Driver Fitness BASIC. The violation severity weights are currently being reviewed based on feedback from stakeholders.

77. Why should a motor carrier log in to the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

Motor carriers that log in to the SMS can view their Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) status and their Inspection Selection System value. Carriers can also view detailed information on roadside inspections and crashes that is not available to the public, such as driver names and other carrier-specific information.

78. What is included in the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories’ (BASICs) details of the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

Each BASIC’s details page, except where noted, consists of five parts:

  • BASIC Overall Status: A symbol, based on the data, indicates that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may prioritize a motor carrier for further monitoring, and the reason (roadside and/or investigation results).
  • Data Center: Provides a means to download the roadside and investigation data that SMS uses. Users can download data in Excel (XLS) or XML format for the selected BASIC or for all BASICs.
  • On-road Performance Detail tab: Provides the SMS measure, assigned percentile, and supporting information for the selected BASIC. This includes a summary listing of violations and their violation weights, and a listing of the relevant inspections for the BASIC. The full inspection report can also be accessed from this section.
  • Investigation Results Detail tab: Identifies whether an Acute/Critical Violation was discovered during the previous 12 months from the SMS data snapshot date. If an Acute/Critical Violation was discovered, the violation and the date it was cited are listed.
  • Performance Tools tab: Presents a series of graphs that can assist a motor carrier in determining its performance under the selected BASIC. Two graphs are provided: one lists the relevant inspections versus the inspections with a violation in the selected BASIC by month for the 24-month period of the SMS results, and the second graph presents the SMS results for the entire safety event group in the selected BASIC. The graph presents the measure on the vertical axis and the percentile on the horizontal axis for the safety event group.

79. How often are the Safety Measurement System (SMS) results updated and what timeframe does each update include?

Answer

SMS results are updated monthly. A snapshot of the data is taken on the third or last Friday of each month and then it takes approximately 10 days to process and validate the data. Once validated, the results are uploaded to the SMS Website. The table below lists a tentative schedule for future releases of SMS results:

Release MonthData Snapshot DateApproximate Release Date
March 2021 Friday, 2/26/21 Week of 3/8/21 
April 2021 Friday, 3/26/21 Week of 4/5/21 
May 2021 Friday, 4/30/21 Week of 5/10/21 
June 2021Friday, 5/28/21Week of 6/7/21
July 2021Friday, 6/25/21Week of 7/5/21
  

80. What is a warning letter?

Answer

The warning letter provides motor carriers with early notification of potential safety performance issues. Warning letters are based on roadside performance results collected during the previous 24 months. The warning letter is sent to the motor carrier’s principal place of business and specifically identifies Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories that exceed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Intervention Threshold relative to the motor carrier’s safety event grouping and outlines possible consequences of continued compliance problems. View the Warning Letter Factsheet here.

81. How do motor carriers log in to the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

Motor carriers can log in to the SMS by entering their U.S. DOT Number and U.S. DOT PIN on the SMS login page, or signing in to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Portal and selecting the SMS link.

You can request a U.S. DOT PIN via https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and follow the instructions on the page. You can also call 800-832-5660 for assistance.

If you do not know your PIN, then you should request a new U.S. DOT PIN via https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and follow the instructions on the page. (Note: Entering the Docket PIN will not allow login.)

Access to the SMS login page and to the FMCSA Portal is available on the SMS homepage.

82. What information is displayed on the Motor Carrier Overview?

Answer

The major sections displayed in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) for the selected motor carrier include the following:

  • The BASICs Overview — Provides the on-road results, investigation results, and overall performance of each BASIC.
  • Summary of Activities — Provides a summary of roadside inspections and crashes for the 24-month timeframe that the SMS results are based upon.
  • Recent Investigations — Provides a listing of the five most recent investigations performed on the motor carrier.
  • Data Downloads — Allows download of the data on inspections, violations, and crashes that are used in the motor carrier’s SMS results. Data can be pulled for a specific Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) or for all BASICs in either Microsoft Excel or XML format.
  • Carrier Registration Information — Provides the motor carrier’s registration information that was current when the SMS results were determined.

83. What is an adjudicated citation?

Answer

A citation that has been contested and resolved through a due process proceeding in a State, local or administrative tribunal, regardless of how the action is resolved, whether by a judge or prosecutor or as part of a plea agreement or otherwise.

84. How does the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) use roadside inspection reports in its data systems?

Answer

States record all roadside inspection reports in their databases and then that data is uploaded to FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). Each month, the data in MCMIS is sent to FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System and the Pre-Employment Screening Program.

85. What is a percentile?

Answer

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) calculates a measure for each Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) as described in the SMS Methodology document. The measure is then used to assign a ranking, or percentile, for each motor carrier that has information that could be compared against other similar carriers. This percentile ranking allows the safety behavior of a carrier to be compared with the safety behavior of carriers with similar operations and numbers of safety events.

The percentile is computed on a 0-100 scale, with 100 indicating the worst performance and 0 indicating the best performance. The carrier in the group with the highest measure will be at the 100th percentile, while the carrier with the lowest measure in the group will be at the 0 percentile. All other carriers in the group will be between these two numbers based on their compliance records.

86. What’s the best way to keep up with what is happening with Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)?

Answer

Keep up with the latest information on CSA as it becomes available by signing up for the email subscription service or RSS feed and by periodically reviewing the CSA Website.

87. Can you mail out information to help educate carriers and drivers about Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not have a budget for printing and mailing CSA material to the public. However, there are many free downloadable and printable documents available on the CSA Website.

88. Can someone from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) speak about Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) at our organization?

Answer

To request a speaker to address CSA at your organization, contact your State’s FMCSA Division office. You can also make speaker requests via the CSA feedback system, which will add your request for a CSA speaker to a list of similar requests. If and when CSA speakers become available, the Agency will contact you. Stakeholders can also call FMCSA Communications at 202-366-9999.

89. Where can I go to have my Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) questions answered?

Answer

Questions about CSA can be answered at the CSA Website through one of three methods:

  1. Browse the CSA Website’s Help Center, which has many documents covering the different aspects of CSA.
  2. Search the website’s Frequently Asked Questions.
  3. If the first two methods are unsuccessful, submit your question at the CSA Feedback Page or call the Communications & Outreach Team at 877-254-5365 to receive an answer directly.

90. Where can I find Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) training?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is not certifying anyone’s CSA training and is not tracking CSA seminars at the national level. However, the Agency recommends that you contact your local FMCSA Division to see if they are carrying out any training in your State. Their contact information can be found in this list of Field Operations, Service Center, and State-level motor carrier Division offices. You can also contact local trucking professional organizations since they often hold CSA seminars.

In addition, you can educate yourself about CSA by accessing these helpful online informational tools:

91. Do you have a safety consultant that you can recommend?

Answer

No, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not provide a list or otherwise recommend specific safety consultants.

92. What information is available to help me achieve compliance?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety is designed to assist motor carriers in understanding and complying with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

93. Describe the serious driver violations that are sometimes called Red Flag Violations.

Answer

When investigating a motor carrier, a Safety Investigator (SI) looks at driver history for egregious violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). These violations are sometimes referred to as Red Flag Violations and are always investigated as part of a carrier investigation. The SI conducting the investigation looks to see if the violation has been corrected. At present, there are 16 such violations, though this list may be updated periodically. These violations are outlined in the table below, along with the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to which they correspond.

BASICFMCSR PartViolation Description
Driver Fitness383.21Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with more than one driver’s license
Driver Fitness383.23(a)(2)Operating a CMV without a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL)
Driver Fitness383.51(a)Driving a CMV (CDL) while disqualified
Driver Fitness383.51A-SINDriving a CMV while CDL is suspended for a safety-related or unknown reason and in the state of driver’s license issuance
Driver Fitness383.51A-SOUTDriving a CMV while CDL is suspended for safety-related or unknown reason and outside the driver’s license state of issuance.
Driver Fitness383.91(a)Operating a CMV with improper CDL group
Driver Fitness391.11Unqualified driver
Driver Fitness391.11(b)(5)Driver lacking valid license for type of vehicle being operated
Driver Fitness391.11(b)(7)Driver disqualified from operating CMV
Driver Fitness391.15(a)Driving a CMV while disqualified
Driver Fitness391.15A-SINDriving a CMV while disqualified. Suspended for safety-related or unknown reason and in the state of driver’s license issuance.
Driver Fitness391.15A-SOUTDriving a CMV while disqualified. Suspended for a safety-related or unknown reason and outside the driver’s license state of issuance.
Controlled Substances/Alcohol392.4(a)Driver uses or is in possession of drugs
Controlled Substances/Alcohol392.5(a)Possession/use/under influence of alcohol less than 4 hours prior to duty
Fatigued Driving (HOS)395.13(d)Driving after being declared out-of-service (OOS)
Vehicle Maintenance396.9(c)(2)Operating an OOS vehicle

Any driver violations identified and addressed during carrier investigations that are not corrected may result in a driver Notice of Violation or Notice of Claim.

94. When I add up the total of my driver, vehicle, and placardable Hazardous Materials (HM) vehicle inspections, why don’t they equal my total inspection count in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

The SMS categorizes inspections into three types: driver, vehicle, and placardable HM vehicle inspections. The driver inspection examines driver issues and is associated with the following Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Driver Fitness, and Controlled Substances/Alcohol. The vehicle inspection relates to the following BASIC: Vehicle Maintenance. Placardable HM vehicle inspections impact the HM Compliance BASIC. During a roadside inspection, a truck can receive a driver inspection, vehicle inspection, and/or a placardable HM vehicle inspection. The total inspections will not necessarily equal the total of vehicle + driver + hazmat inspections. For example, if an inspector does a Level 1 inspection where he examines the vehicle and the driver, it would show up in the SMS like this:

  • Total inspections: 1
  • Vehicle inspections: 1
  • Driver inspections: 1
  • HM inspections: 0

In other words, drivers and motor carriers can have more than one type of inspection during a single inspection.

95. How is a violation’s severity weight determined?

Answer

All inspection violations that pertain to a Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) are assigned violation weights that reflect their association with crash occurrence and crash consequences. The violation weight helps differentiate the levels of crash risk associated with the various violations attributed to each BASIC. Violation weight is assigned on a 1 -10 scale, where 1 represents the lowest crash risk and 10 represents the highest crash risk relative to the other violations in the BASIC. Also, an additional weight of 2 is applied to violations that result in out-of-service orders.

Crashes are assigned severity weights according to their impact. Greater weight is attributed to crashes involving injuries, fatalities, and/or the release of hazardous materials than to crashes only resulting in a vehicle tow-away.

Because the weights reflect the relative importance of each violation within each particular BASIC, they cannot be compared meaningfully across the various BASICs. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) severity weights are subject to change, so please refer to the SMS Methodology and SMS Methodology Appendix A Violations List for further information.

96. What are investigations?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to prioritize companies for investigations.

Potential onsite investigations include the following:

  • Onsite Focused Investigation – this intervention targets specific BASIC area(s) (e.g., Vehicle Maintenance), while Onsite Comprehensive Investigations address all aspects of the carrier’s operation. Onsite focused investigations will not result in Satisfactory safety ratings because not all regulatory parts are examined. However, it is possible that an onsite focused investigation may result in no rating, or a Conditional or Unsatisfactory rating, in accordance with 49 CFR Part 385, App. B, if problems are discovered.
  • Onsite Comprehensive Investigation – this intervention addresses all aspects of the carrier’s operation. It may result in Satisfactory, Conditional or Unsatisfactory ratings, in accordance with 49 CFR Part 385, App. B.

97. What is the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS) and how is it used?

Answer

The DSMS is a component of the overall Safety Measurement System (SMS). The DSMS is a tool that enables enforcement personnel to assess individual drivers in the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories using 36 months of roadside performance data across employers.

State can do that. DSMS does not impact a driver’s Commercial Driver’s License. Neither drivers nor employing motor carriers nor the general public have access to the DSMS. FMCSA does not address drivers the same way it addresses carriers today, nor will it under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. While carriers are prioritized for intervention based on the SMS, drivers are only investigated during a carrier investigation. Therefore, no Intervention Thresholds are in place for drivers.

98. Why is there no driver rating? Why aren’t drivers more accountable?

Answer

While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not use the Safety Measurement System (SMS) or any other system to assign formal safety ratings to individual drivers, the agency recognizes that holding drivers accountable for safe driving behavior is an important part of the safety compliance and enforcement process. Safety Investigators (SIs) always systematically investigate drivers with egregious violations when investigating a motor carrier. Additionally, SIs use the Driver SMS, an internal safety assessment tool, to review drivers with strong patterns of noncompliance. Any violations that are not corrected may result in a Notice of Violation or Notice of Claim for the driver.

99. Is the Crash Indicator available for public view?

Answer

There is no current plan to make the Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category available for public viewing. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently examining crash data to see if weighting can be applied in a cost effective manner. Details about this research can be found here: http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/CrashWeightingResearchPlan_7-2012.pdf.

100. What is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), who can access it, and how?

Answer

PSP is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration program mandated by Congress that is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators’ crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. The program is voluntary and is not part of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

Motor carriers may request driver information for the purpose of pre-employment screening. The driver must provide written consent. Individual drivers may request their own driver information record at any time. The information will be retrieved from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). Electronic profiles contain five years of crash data and three years of inspection data; however, MCMIS does not include conviction data. There is a fee for this service.

For a carrier to enroll in PSP, visit the enrollment page. For additional questions about PSP, visit the PSP Website’s FAQs page or the PSP “Contact Us” page.

101. What is included in Recent Investigations?

Answer

Recent Investigations lists the five most recent investigations conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or its State Partners. The listing is not limited to the 24-month timeframe that is used to calculate the Safety Measurement System results for the motor carrier.

102. What is included in the Summary of Activities?

Answer

The Summary of Activities presents the most recent investigation and the number of roadside inspections and crashes that have occurred during the 24-month timeframe that are used to calculate the Safety Measurement System (SMS) results for the motor carrier.

The Total Inspections count consists of all roadside inspections (Levels I through VI). The inspection total is broken down into total inspections without violations used in the SMS and total inspections with violations used in the SMS.

The Total Crashes count consists of all the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration-reportable crashes. Reportable crashes include crashes that resulted in an injury or fatality to a person involved in the crash and crashes that required at least one vehicle to be towed from the scene due to disabling damage where there were no injuries or fatalities.

Selecting “Continue for more Crash, Inspection & Investigation Details” reveals more information about recent investigations, inspections, and crashes. The five most recent investigations and when they occurred are listed. Inspections are broken down by type (i.e., driver, vehicle, and placardable Hazardous Materials (HM)) and include out-of-service (OOS) percentile rates.

The Driver Inspection count consists of all Level I, II, III, and VI inspections. The driver OOS rate is calculated as the number of driver inspections with at least one driver OOS violation divided by the total number of driver inspections.

The Vehicle Inspection count consists of all Level I, II, V, and VI inspections. The vehicle OOS rate is calculated as the number of vehicle inspections with at least one vehicle OOS violation divided by the total number of vehicle inspections.

The Placardable HM Inspection count consists of all vehicle inspections (Level I, II, V, and VI) where placardable quantities of HM are present. The HM OOS rate is calculated as the number of placardable HM vehicle inspections with at least one HM OOS violation divided by the total number of placardable HM vehicle inspections.

Total Crashes is broken down into three categories: Fatal, Injury, and Towaway.

103. What is included in the Carrier Registration Information?

Answer

The Carrier Registration Information contains a summary of the registration information provided by the motor carrier to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA). This information is current as of the Safety Measurement System (SMS) data snapshot date. If a motor carrier updates its registration information after the SMS data snapshot date, the changes will be reflected in the next monthly SMS results.

The most up-to-date registration information for a motor carrier can be obtained from FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System Website.

Motor carriers are required to update this data at least every two years. Failure to do so will result in the carrier’s U.S. DOT Number being inactivated. A message is displayed if the registration data has not been updated within the two-year requirement period.

Instructions for updating motor carrier registration information are displayed by selecting the “Update Registration Info” button.

Selecting the “Carrier Registration Details” button will display additional details of the motor carrier’s registration information, including contact information, operation classification, and type of cargo carried.

104. How is the Safety Measurement System (SMS) used?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses the SMS to:

  • Identify motor carriers for interventions, such as warning letters, investigations, or roadside inspections.
  • Determine the specific safety problems of the carrier to focus on during an intervention.
  • Monitor motor carrier noncompliance issues over time.

105. Where does the Safety Measurement System (SMS) get its data from?

Answer

SMS gets a monthly snapshot of data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) national database, the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). SMS pulls the previous 24 months of roadside inspection data from MCMIS and State-reported commercial motor vehicle crashes and motor carrier registration/Census data and results from Federal and State investigations conducted within the previous 12 months.

106. If my Safety Measurement System Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) percentile ranks go up, what will happen?

Answer

Higher percentile ranks could cause a motor carrier to enter, or remain, in the pool of carriers with BASICs that exceed the Intervention Thresholds. Carriers with percentiles above a certain Intervention Threshold and meeting minimum data sufficiency requirements in a BASIC can be deemed poor safety performers. These carriers will be prioritized for Compliance, Safety, Accountability interventions. Increased percentiles may make a carrier subject to more severe interventions.

107. How does compliance help motor carriers’ businesses?

Answer

Noncompliant motor carriers may be subject to costly repairs, delays, and penalties, or may be ordered to stay off the road entirely. For additional information, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “Safety is Good Business – Crashes Hurt Your Bottom Line.”

108. What are the Intervention Thresholds for drivers?

Answer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not address drivers the same way that it addresses motor carriers. While motor carriers are prioritized for intervention based on the Safety Measurement System, drivers are only investigated during a carrier investigation. Therefore, no Intervention Thresholds are in place for drivers.

109. How can a carrier allow multiple employees to see its non-public data without giving them the password to change the company’s MCS-150 data?

Answer

Those motor carriers that want multiple employees to access their Safety Measurement System (SMS) data can do so using a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Portal account. Motor carrier Portal accounts contain a link to the SMS data. To set up an FMCSA Portal account, do the following:

  • Go to the FMCSA Portal and follow the instructions to request an FMCSA Portal account.
  • The first user generates an account using the company’s U.S. DOT PIN and designates himself or herself as the Portal administrator for that company.
  • Additional employees can then set up Portal accounts.
  • The company Portal administrator (from Step 2) can approve anyone from the company requesting an account.
  • All Portal users the administrator has approved will have access to the company’s SMS data, but only the administrator can update the MCS-150 registration data.

For additional assistance with FMCSA Portal accounts, please call the Help Desk at 800-832-5660.

110. How can a carrier improve in the Vehicle Maintenance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC addresses the requirements within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), specifically 49 CFR Parts 392, 393 and 396, to properly maintain a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and to prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and overloading of a CMV. The following resources can help motor carriers improve their Vehicle Maintenance BASIC measure:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Education & Technical Assistance Program’s A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety, pages 81-88 and 97-110. This guide includes a number of forms and procedural information including:
    • FMCSA’s Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance Forms (pg 106)
    • North American Standard Inspection Procedure: Get familiar with the inspection procedures that roadside inspectors follow and ensure that your company’s vehicles are well-maintained (pg 104)
    • Driver Vehicle Inspection Form: Pre-trip inspections can help to prevent vehicle-related violations. (pg 102)

FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). The SMC helps carriers determine their organizational breakdowns that are causing the carriers’ safety violations. The SMC has its own webpage located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About/SMC_Overview.aspx. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_13_007_VM_Cargo_SMC.pdf and https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_13_005_VM_Inspect-Repair_SMC.pdf.

111. How can a carrier improve in the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC)?

Answer

The HM Compliance BASIC includes unsafe handling of HM on a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Example violations: leaking containers, improper placarding, improperly packaged HM. (FMCSR Part 397 and U.S. Department of Transportation HM regulations Parts 171, 172, 173, 177, 178, 179 & 180). The following resources can help motor carriers improve their HM Compliance BASIC measure:

FMCSA created a tool, the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). The SMC helps carriers determine their organizational breakdowns that are causing the carriers’ safety violations. The SMC has its own webpage located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About/SMC_Overview.aspx. Carriers can download an overview of the SMC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_12_002_SMC_Overview.pdf and download a list of safety improvement practices that help resolve typical carrier process breakdowns related to the HM Compliance BASIC here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/FMC_CSA_13_006_HM_Compliance_SMC.pdf.

112. Where can stakeholders submit feedback about Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)?

Answer

Stakeholders can also submit feedback through the CSA feedback mechanism located at: http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/CSA_Feedback.aspx.

113. How does one view inspections without violations in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

These inspections can be viewed in the Inspection History section for these BASICs on the SMS Website. Inspection History uses three views: the total number of inspections for each carrier, as well as a breakdown of the number of inspections with and without violations.

114. A motor carrier, Grand Island Express -DOT #54988 contacted me to tell me that they went to their Fatigued Driving BASIC inspection information and when they downloaded the Excel spreadsheet it was listing some inspections and the severity and time-weighting multiple times. For example, the inspection for Lester Zimmerman on 12/01/10 in Maine – showed three HOS violations on the one inspection, but the Excel spreadsheet listed this inspection and its points three times. Another inspection for a Donald Freeman on 11/18/10 in Iowa – cited the driver for two HOS violations, but the Excel spreadsheet listed this one inspection and the points twice. It appears that the number of HOS violations is driving the number of inspections listed on the Excel spreadsheet instead of the inspection showing up only once. This is important as this carrier is just at the 65% threshold in the Fatigued Driving BASIC. If these inspections are counting two or three times instead of once, this is a bad situation. Please respond.

Answer

The reason the severity points look different in the download is because the severity point total in the download is not just for that violation; it is the total inspection time/severity weight, which is a total of all of the violation time/severity weights cited in that inspection. If there are other violations from the same incident in the same BASIC, the Excel file will show the total of all of those severity points, not the total for that one violation, but they only count one time in SMS. This is how it needs to be displayed in Excel in order for users to be able to sort by violation/driver. We understand it is confusing and the FMCSA Technical Support Team is looking into possible enhancements for this issue.

Carriers looking to improve their Safety Measurement System (SMS) BASIC percentile ranks should read the information “What can a motor carrier do to improve?” section of the information center located here: http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS/InfoCenter/Default.aspx. There are numerous tips that will help carriers with improving their SMS percentile ranks and help drivers avoid crashes and violations.

115. How long do I have to get into compliance?

Answer

There is no grace period for achieving compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. However, carriers should know that their safety performance in the Safety Measurement System is based upon the previous 24 months of on-road performance and crash data. Understanding the regulations and ensuring vehicles and drivers are safe today will help keep carriers off of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s expanding radar tomorrow.

116. What is the proposed enhancement to the crash data sufficiency standards?

Answer

FMCSA proposes an enhancement to the crash data sufficiency standards to focus our investigative resources on carriers with more crash involvement. We propose increasing the number of crashes required to assign carriers a percentile in the Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) from two to three. Currently, we assign percentiles in this BASIC if carriers have had at least two reportable crashes in the past two years.

To learn more about this proposed change, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

117. Why is FMCSA proposing these changes when the National Academies of Sciences Study is not complete?

Answer

FMCSA is proposing these changes to gather input and comments from the public and the industry to further inform the Correlation Study being conducted by the National Academies of Sciences. The proposed changes, if adopted, will not be implemented until after FMCSA receives any recommendations from the study and identifies any necessary corrective actions. In the meantime, the comments and analysis will be provided for consideration in the study.

118. Why did I receive points for a warning ticket?

Answer

When enforcement discovers a driver breaking the law, the officer has several ways to impact the driver and the carrier he/she is representing. It is important to understand each of these ways, how each way impacts the carrier and driver, and how to remove each from your record. Enforcement can issue a citation or warning to a driver for breaking a State law. Citations can be defended in State court. Cases that are lost, or where the plaintiff pleads guilty, are called convictions. Convictions will impact the driver and could show up on the driver’s Commercial Driver’s License and Moving Violation Record.

In addition, enforcement can give a violation on a roadside inspection report. These violations will appear in a driver’s Pre-Employment Screening Program record and could show up in the carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) data. To know which violations are used in SMS, see Table A of the SMS Methodology located here: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMSMethodology.pdf. Carriers and drivers can try to remove incorrect roadside inspection data from their record using DataQs (https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov/). It is possible that a driver can receive a warning or citation with a roadside violation for the same incident. If the carrier or driver wants to protest both of them, they need to do each independently through the aforementioned process. The outcome of one doesn’t necessarily impact the other because each is in a different jurisdiction. Citations are adjudicated in State court, while DataQs is a Federal program.

119. How can I use the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Excel download to better understand my data?

Answer

Understanding the following information will help carriers analyze their SMS safety data at a deeper level. Carriers that have a deeper understanding of their SMS data will be able to fix their safety problems more easily. This will improve their SMS percentile ranks in the long run. This document is divided into sections that are aligned with the tabs in the SMS Excel download.

Violation Summary

This tab will be found in all of the SMS Excel downloads for each carrier except the crash file. The main benefit of analyzing the data in this tab is to look at the frequency of violations on three levels. One level is to look at an individual violation by the code and compare to see which violations are the most frequent. Another level is to look at which violations are leading to the most out-of service (OOS) violations. The last and most important analysis of the data in this tab involves grouping violations that are similar. For example, put together all speeding violations or all violations about tires, etc. Next, examine the groups of violations to see which groups of violations come up most frequently. The carrier will have an idea of where to focus after these analyses are done in conjunction with the other sections of the download. The carrier should consider not only the frequency of the violation, but also the severity points for each violation when deciding which violation to focus on. Carriers can look up the severity weights of each violation here: http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMS_AppendixA_ViolationsList.xlsx

Acute-Critical Violations

This tab will be found in all of the SMS Excel downloads for each carrier except the crash file. If the carrier has numerous Acute and/or Critical Violations, analysis should be done by grouping similar types of violations. Next, the carrier for each violation and/or each violation type should to try to understand how your safety management contributes to your safety breakdowns. Systematically assess your company’s Safety Management Practices and make improvements where necessary.

Inspections with Violation

This tab will be found in all of the SMS Excel downloads for each carrier except the crash file. This tab has numerous fields, which lend to various types of analysis.

For the inspection section, carriers can analyze their inspection data by date, allowing the carrier to see if trends exist for certain time periods. The carrier should look to see if there are certain periods of time where certain types of violations were more or less present. In addition to looking at the data chronologically, a carrier can look at blocks of time or seasons. Carriers can sort the data by State to see if there are any geographical trends by examining the data at the State by State or regional level. Carriers can also look to see, if applicable, the impact of Hazardous Materials (HM) inspections vs. non-HM materials inspections.

Carriers will want to organize their inspection data by driver. This includes looking at individual drivers, but also grouping drivers by where they are based (if relevant) and type of load(s) they haul (if relevant).

The vehicle section will help carriers see if certain types of trucks are causing more issues than others. This field is particularly useful with the Vehicle Maintenance and HM Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

Viewing the violations, their severity weights, and their impact on OOS can also be a rich data source for carriers. The main benefit is to look at the frequency of violations on many levels. One level is took an individual violations by looking at the code and comparing to see which violations are the most frequent. Another level is to look at which violations are leading to the most OOS violations. Carriers should group violations that are similar; for example, put together all speeding violations or all violations about tires, etc. and then examine which violations come up most frequently. Lastly, carriers should look at the severity weights of the violations as they, along with the frequency, can help the carrier know where to focus. Multiplying the number of times a certain violation occurred with the severity weight can show a carrier how a violation or a group of violations can be impacting a carrier overall.

Crashes

Carriers who have enough crashes can use this Excel file to help identify three types of trends. Carriers can see if their crashes are happening in a certain State or part of the country, which can then lead the carrier into an inquiry of why that is so. The carrier can determine if there are particular drivers who are prone to crashing. If certain individuals are the problem, this will focus the carrier on how to proceed with fixing the problem. Carriers with multiple drivers could look to see if the majority of drivers are coming from a certain location. Lastly, the carriers are given the Vehicle Identification Numbers of trucks and can use this information to determine types of trucks getting into crashes. This might lead to some interesting trends if certain types of vehicles are crashing more frequently than others. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists a lot of crash countermeasures on their website that can assist motor carriers with ways to improve their Crash Indicator BASIC measure.

Other

Carriers should almost always look at each BASIC by itself as the data is most useful when analyzed this way. However, it could be helpful to look at all of the BASICs together when examining how many violations each driver is contributing to the carrier’s safety record.

Additionally, FMCSA has some information in the SMS Information Center that will help carriers improve in each of the BASICs:

120. How did the Safety Measurement System (SMS) determine the percentile rank for each of my Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)?

Answer

There are several components to the SMS calculation. The first thing that needs to be calculated is the measure for each BASIC. The measure has a numerator and denominator. Once the measure is determined, there is a process to convert the measure into a percentile rank.

Numerator of the Measure
The numerator for the measure is the same for all BASICs. This calculation simply involves determining all the violation points, or crash severity points for each BASIC. The first step is totaling all the violation points within each BASIC for each inspection. If any exceed 30, then reduce them to 30 for the inspection for the upcoming calculations.

The second step is to take all the violations that occurred in each BASIC and break them down into three time periods. Using the date of the most recent snapshot (this date can be found on the SMS Website under the “Search for Motor Carrier SMS Monthly Results” text in the search box on the far right of the screen), place the violations into three groups: violations that happened in the last 6 months, violations that happened between 6 months ago and 1 year ago, and violations older than 12 months, but within the last 24 months.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has time weights for inspections. More recent inspections are worth more. For any inspection that happened in the last 6 months, points are multiplied by 3; for any inspection that has happened between 6-12 months, points are multiplied by 2; and, for any inspection that happened more than 1 year ago, but within the last 24 months, points are multiplied by 1.

Next, total all the severity points for each inspection for each BASIC of the three groups. Remember to never exceed 30 points for any inspection per BASIC. Then, multiply the total of that group that occurred within the last 6 months by 3, the total of that group that happened between 6–12 months by 2, and the total of that group that happened more than 1 year ago, but within the last 24 months by 1. Then add those three numbers together and you have the numerator of the measure.

Denominator of the Measure
The denominator of the measure differs depending on which BASIC you are calculating.

For Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASICs
Total all the inspections for each of the three groups. Then multiply the total of that group that occurred within the last 6 months by 3, the total of that group that has happened between 6-12 months by 2, and the total of that group that happened more than 1 year ago, but within the last 24 months by 1. Then add those three numbers together. This is the denominator of the measure.

Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs
There are several parts to this calculation. The first part is calculating the average Power Units (PUs). This is done by taking the carrier’s PU total from 18 months ago, 6 months ago, and today in SMS and adding them together and dividing by 3. Carriers can look up their PU information in the History Section of SMS. Look at the history of the Unsafe Driving or Crash Indicator BASICs.

Next, the Utilization Factor needs to be determined. A carrier needs to determine if they are a straight or compound fleet. If the carrier had 30% or more of their trucks as straight, then they are considered in the straight truck group and, if it is less than that, then they are considered combo. Next, the carrier needs to divide their Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) data by their average PU total to determine their VMT per average PU. The VMT they should use is the one currently in SMS. SMS will use the total from the last full year. So, if it is 2011, SMS will use the 2010 data. If the 2010 data is missing, SMS will use the 2009 data. If the 2009 and 2010 are both missing, then SMS assigns the carrier a 1 for the Utilization Factor. Carriers should use the chart that applies to their carrier (i.e., combo or straight) to determine their Utilization Factor. See below.

VMT per PU for Combo Segment
Combo Segment
VMT per Average PUUtilization Factor
< 80,0001
80,000 – 160,0001+0.6[(VMT per PU-80,000)/ 80,000]
160,000 – 200,0001.6
> 200,0001
No Recent VMT Information1
VMT per Average PU for Straight Segment
Straight Segment
VMT per Average PUUtilization Factor
< 20,0001
20,000 – 60,000VMT per PU/ 20,000
60,000 – 200,0003
> 200,0001
No Recent VMT Information1

Next, the average PU is multiplied by the Utilization Factor and this will be your denominator.

Determining Percentile Rank
Now, the carrier divides the denominator into the numerator for each BASIC. This is the carrier’s measure for the BASIC.

The measure is then compared to other carriers’ safety event groups. Safety event groups are explained in this Frequently Asked Question here. The carrier with the highest measure within the safety event group receives a percentile rank of 100 and the one with the lowest measure receives a percentile rank of 0. The rest of the carriers in the safety event group are slotted between those percentile ranks. Carriers cannot calculate their percentile rank on their own because they don’t have other carriers’ safety data. However, there is a place on the SMS Website that gives carriers a measure/percentile rank conversion chart. To view this chart, go to the SMS Website and search for your carrier by placing your U.S. DOT Number in the appropriate search box. Now you should be on your carrier overview page, so select the BASIC that you want to look up. Once on this BASIC page, find and click on the Performance Tools tab on the right side of the screen below the Data Center section. Once you are in this tab, click on Measure View on the far right hand of the screen. The graph that is showing on this page maps measure to percentile rank. The vertical line is for measure and the horizontal line is for percentile rank. The line in the graph shows the correlation between measure and percentile rank for that BASIC and safety event group.

121. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) Website has a note saying “This carrier has no current operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.” What does it mean?

Answer

This means that the carrier’s operating authority is not current for some reason. To find out additional information about this situation there are two things that can be done:

  1. Just above the note about operating authority are three sentences of text in box. The third sentence contains hyperlinks to the SAFER and Licensing and Insurance information for this carrier. Clicking on both hyperlinks will give additional information about what is going on with this carrier’s operating authority.
  2. To gain additional information on this situation including how to remedy the situation if you are the carrier whose authority is not current call (202) 385-2423 M-F 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM EST or (202) 385-2400 after hours and holidays to leave a message.

122. What is the terminology used in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) On-road Performance column?

Answer

The table below outlines the terms that are used for each BASIC:

On-road Performance Column Information:
BASICCurrent Values Displayed
Unsafe DrivingDisplay Percentile
No Power Unit (PU) data – No registered PU data recorded in Census information
0% – No inspections with a violation in this BASIC cited
< 3 inspections with violations – Less than 3 inspections with a violation in the BASIC
No violations within 1 year – No violations cited in the past 12 months
Crash IndicatorDisplay Percentile
No PU data – No registered PU data recorded in Census information
0% – No crashes listed for the motor carrier
< 2 crashes – One crash
No crashes within 1 year – No crashes cited within the past 12 months
Hours-of-Service ComplianceDisplay Percentile
0% – Enough driver inspections (3+ inspections), but no violations in this BASIC cited
< 3 driver inspections – Not enough driver inspections to be assessed (0 to 2 inspections)
< 3 inspections with violations – Enough inspections (+3 driver inspections), but not enough inspections with BASIC-related violations (1 to 2 inspections with violations)
No violations within 1 year – Enough inspections, but no violation cited within the past 12 months and the latest driver inspection did not include a violation in the BASIC
Vehicle MaintenanceDisplay Percentile
0% – Enough vehicle inspections (5+ inspections), but no violations cited in the BASIC
< 5 vehicle inspections – Not enough vehicle inspections to be assessed (0 to 4 inspections)
< 5 inspections with violations – Enough inspections (+5 vehicle inspections), but not enough inspections with BASIC-related violations (1 to 4 inspections with violations)
No violations within 1 year – Enough inspections, but no violation cited within the past 12 months and the latest vehicle inspection did not include a violation in the BASIC
Controlled Substances/ AlcoholDisplay Percentile
0% – No inspections with a violation in this BASIC cited
No violations within 1 year – No violations cited in the past 12 months
Hazardous Materials (HM) ComplianceDisplay Percentile
0% – Enough vehicle inspections (5+ inspections), but no violations cited in the BASIC
< 5 vehicle inspections – Not enough vehicle inspections to be assessed (0 to 4 inspections)
< 5 inspections with violations – Enough inspections (+5 vehicle inspections), but not enough inspections with BASIC-related violations (1 to 4 inspections with violations)
No violations within 1 year – Enough inspections, but no violation cited within the past 12 months and the latest vehicle inspection did not include a violation in the BASIC
No HM placardable vehicle inspections – Carrier does not have any relevant HM placardable vehicle inspections
Driver FitnessDisplay Percentile
0% – Enough driver inspections (5+ inspections), but no violations in this BASIC cited
< 5 driver inspections – Not enough driver inspections to be assessed (0 to 4 inspections)
< 5 inspections with violations – Enough inspections (+5 driver inspections), but not enough inspections with BASIC-related violations (1 to 4 inspections with violations)
No violations within 1 year – Enough inspections, but no violation cited within the past 12 months and the latest driver inspection did not include a violation in the BASIC

123. What crashes are included in the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

All the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-reportable crashes, without any determination as to responsibility, are included in the SMS. A crash is reported to FMCSA if it involves the following:

  • Any truck having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds or a gross combination weight rating over 10,000 pounds used on public highways; OR
  • Any motor vehicle designed to transport more than eight people, including the driver; OR
  • Any vehicle displaying a Hazardous Materials (HM) placard (regardless of weight). A vehicle discovered to be transporting HM without a required placard should also be included.

AND

  • That vehicle is involved in a crash while operating on a roadway customarily open to the public, which results in any of the following:
    • A fatality: any person(s) killed in or outside of any vehicle (truck, bus, car, etc.) involved in the crash or who dies within 30 days of the crash as a result of an injury sustained in the crash; OR
    • An injury: any person(s) injured as a result of the crash who immediately receives medical treatment away from the crash scene; OR
    • A tow-away: any motor vehicle (truck, bus, car, etc.) disabled as a result of the crash and transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other vehicle.

124. What is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) DataQs System and how can I access it?

Answer

The DataQs system is an electronic means of filing concerns about Federal and State data released to the public by the FMCSA. DataQs is the best way to get the data correction request process initiated, as all changes to data must be made at the source (i.e., the Agency that enters the data).

A motor carrier, driver, or other stakeholder can register for DataQs via the FMCSA Portal or through the DataQs system directly. Requests for data corrections require simple forms to be filled in with information from the relevant report, such as the report number, date and time of event, State, and an explanation for why the data should be changed. Documentation to support the Request for Data Review (RDR) may also be submitted to the system. All information is routed to the organization responsible for the data. Electronic correspondence is used to communicate with the requestor when additional information is needed. DataQs is open to the public and the website provides an online help function to walk users through the process.

Here are some tips to assist you in filing DataQs RDRs:

  • Attach document(s) that support the RDR.
  • Be specific and detailed in your narrative.
  • Any owner-operator with a valid lease agreement submitting an RDR should include the lease agreement.
  • Ensure contact information is accurate and updated.
  • Check the status frequently (additional information may be requested).

Please note: A carrier can modify its registration information (e.g., name, address, or Power Unit data) by updating the MCS-150 form.

125. Why are all crashes used without any determination as to responsibility?

Answer

The Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS) Crash Indicator includes all reportable crashes, regardless of the carrier’s or driver’s role in the crash. FMCSA’s SMS does not weight a crash differently based on the carrier’s or driver’s role, although it does weight crashes based on severity. State-reported crash data are used to calculate the Crash Indicator measure of relative crash involvement. State-reported crash data do not have information regarding fault. The SMS algorithm, by design, ranks carriers in comparison to other carriers. All carriers are treated the same way. In the case of the Crash Indicator measure the carrier’s crash rates are being compared to other carriers’ crash rates regardless of the role of a carrier in these crashes. Therefore, there is no relative disadvantage to any particular carrier. To eliminate misinterpretation, a caveat is placed wherever SMS Crash Indicator-related values are shown. The caveat states, “The list of crashes represent a motor carrier’s involvement in reportable crashes regardless of the carrier’s or driver’s role in the crash.” When a Crash Indicator percentile is relatively high, it suggests that a further examination of causes is needed, and if correctable, action should be taken by the motor carrier. SMS calculations are applied uniformly to all carriers and are adjusted for exposure. For a more detailed explanation of the calculation of the Crash Indicator and its components, please refer to the SMS Methodology document.

However, as of August 1, 2017, FMCSA is conducting a 24-month Crash Preventability Demonstration Program to review the preventability of certain crash types. Throughout the Demonstration Program, FMCSA will maintain data so that at the program’s conclusion, the Agency can conduct analyses to include: the cost of operating the test and its extrapolation to a larger program; future crash rates of carriers that submitted RDRs; future crash rates of motor carriers with Not Preventable crashes; and impacts to the SMS Crash Indicator BASIC and prioritization. The analysis will be used to examine industry assertions that crashes of these types are not preventable and that removing these crashes from motor carriers’ records would result in a better correlation to future crash risk, as well as to inform future policy decisions on this issue. Details about the program can be found here: https://fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/crash-preventability-demonstration-program

126. What are possible follow-on actions?

Answer

The following is a list of possible follow-on actions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) investigations:

  • Notice of Violation (NOV) – A NOV is a formal notice of noncompliance that requires a response from the carrier. It is used when the regulatory violations discovered are severe enough to warrant formal action but not a civil penalty (e.g., a fine). It is also used in cases where the violation is immediately correctable and the level of, or desire for, cooperation is high. To avoid further intervention, including fines, the carrier must provide evidence of corrective action or initiate a successful challenge to the violation.
  • Notice of Claim (NOC) – A NOC is issued in cases where the regulatory violations are severe enough to warrant assessment and issuance of civil penalties.
  • Operations Out-of-Service (OOS) Order – An OOS order is issued by FMCSA requiring the carrier to cease all motor vehicle operations.

127. What is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) process of improving the Safety Measurement System (SMS)?

Answer

To make our roads safer and sharpen our focus on truck and bus companies that present a high safety risk, FMCSA will regularly make improvements to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program’s SMS. FMCSA announces these changes to the public through the CSA Website and in Federal Register Notices. FMCSA will periodically introduce safety enhancements to the SMS by previewing them, providing educational webinars, and collecting input from motor carriers, enforcement staff, and the public. The Agency designed the SMS expecting that changes would be made as new data and additional analysis became available and that stakeholders and partners would provide their feedback. The Agency continues to collect and analyze input from industry, safety advocates, and other stakeholders to further enhance effectiveness in identifying safety problems before they result in crashes. FMCSA is listening, because together we can save more lives.

128. How does Compliance, Safety, Accountability address accurate and timely reporting of recordable crashes?

Answer

Inspection and crash data that are collected and reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must meet high standards of uniformity, completeness, accuracy, and timeliness. FMCSA has made significant strides in improving the quality of crash and inspection data by developing a comprehensive program that includes raising the awareness of these standards, developing a means to measure State safety data quality, and working directly with States through either a State onsite review process or direct technical assistance to improve the quality of State safety data.

129. Why did the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) change its data systems to account for adjudicated citations?

Answer

FMCSA implemented changes to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) so that the Agency can include with its inspection violation data the results of State citations that have been contested and heard by the court or an administrative tribunal. The changes help to improve data quality and establish uniformity in the way violations are treated in FMCSA’s data systems. High-quality data that is complete, timely, accurate, and consistent enables FMCSA to continue to achieve its safety mission.

The policy only applies to adjudicated State citations with associated violations documented on inspection reports that occurred on or after August 23, 2014.

130. What are the guidelines for completing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCS-150) Biennial Update?

Answer

FMCSA requires all entities under its jurisdiction to update their information through the MCS-150 biennial update every two years. You are required to provide this update every two years even if your company has not changed its information, has ceased interstate operations since the last update, or is no longer in business and you did not notify FMCSA.

There are certain conditions that require updates within 30 days of a change, including changes to a carrier’s legal name, form of business, or address.

More details are available at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/updating-your-registration.

131. What is the proposed enhancement to the Intervention Thresholds for the Vehicle Maintenance, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, and Driver Fitness BASICs?

Answer

Motor carriers are prioritized for interventions if their Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) are at or above Intervention Thresholds. Industry stakeholders maintain that some of the Intervention Thresholds are ineffective because their BASICs are not highly correlated to crash risk. FMCSA proposes an enhancement to the Intervention Thresholds for the Vehicle Maintenance, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, and Driver Fitness BASICs to more closely reflect these BASICs’ correlation to crash risk and improve our focus on carriers with high crash rates. This enhancement includes:

  • Adjusting the Intervention Threshold for the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC
    We propose adjusting the Intervention Threshold for the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC from 80 percent to 75 percent to reflect its higher correlation to crash risk. We also propose adjusting the passenger carrier and Hazardous Materials (HM) carrier thresholds for this BASIC using the same approach; the passenger carrier threshold would be reduced from 65 percent to 60 percent and the HM carrier threshold would drop from 75 percent to 70 percent.
  • Adjusting the Intervention Threshold for the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC
    We propose adjusting the Intervention Threshold for the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC from 80 percent to 90 percent to reflect its lower correlation to crash risk. We also propose adjusting the passenger carrier and HM carrier thresholds for this BASIC using the same approach; the passenger carrier threshold would be raised from 65 percent to 75 percent while the HM carrier threshold would increase from 75 percent to 85 percent.
  • Adjusting the Intervention Threshold for the Driver Fitness BASIC
    We propose adjusting the Intervention Threshold for the Driver Fitness BASIC from 80 percent to 90 percent to reflect its lower correlation to crash risk. We also propose adjusting the passenger carrier and HM carrier thresholds for this BASIC using the same approach; the passenger carrier threshold would be raised from 65 percent to 75 percent and the HM carrier threshold would increase from 75 percent to 85 percent.

To learn more about this proposed change, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

132. What is the proposed enhancement to the operating while OOS violations?

Answer

An operating while out-of-service (OOS) violation occurs when a driver continues to operate after receiving an OOS Order without correcting the OOS condition. Currently, FMCSA categorizes operating while OOS violations under the same Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) as the initial OOS violation. To more effectively identify driver safety problems related to OOS, FMCSA proposes moving operating while OOS violations to the Unsafe Driving BASIC. This proposed change would consolidate driver safety problems that are currently spread across multiple BASICs.

To learn more about this proposed change, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

133. Where can I see how all of these proposed enhancements would improve the SMS’s ability to prioritize the highest risk carriers for interventions?

Answer

We updated the results of our SMS Effectiveness Test (ET) to reflect these proposed enhancements in two easy-to-read graphs. Select “How does the SMS relate to crashes?” to view these graphs, or click here.

134. How can enforcement users log into the SMS Preview site?

Answer

To access the SMS Preview Website, log into the Portal and select the CSA Outreach link. If you are logged in to the CSA Website, you can also select an SMS Preview link.

135. How can motor carriers log into the SMS Preview site?

Answer

During the public preview, carriers can log in on the SMS Preview Homepage or via the CSA Outreach link in the Portal using their U.S. DOT Number and PIN. Once logged in, carriers can see how the proposed enhancements may impact their own SMS results.

136. I’m not sure what to do on the SMS Preview site—where should I start?

Answer

Click on Get Started here in the Help Center to learn what you can do on the SMS Preview site, from touring each proposed enhancement to submitting comments after your tour.

137. How can I tour a proposed enhancement?

Answer

Go to the SMS Preview Homepage, and select a proposed enhancement to take a tour of that change. You can also explore each change on your own. Just hover over the blue flags for detailed information about each proposed change.

138. What should a driver or carrier do to request a review of an adjudicated citation associated with a roadside inspection violation?

Answer

To request a review:

  • Confirm that the adjudication result meets the criteria for a Request for Data Review (RDR) (i.e., dismissed, pled to a different charge)
  • Go to FMCSA’s DataQs Website: https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov/ (Register for free)
  • File an RDR on an inspection
  • Select adjudicated citation RDR type
  • Provide supporting documentation

139. What can motor carriers and the public see on the SMS Preview site?

Answer

During the public preview, carriers can see how the proposed enhancements may impact their own SMS results. The public can see the impact of the proposed changes by viewing example carriers and touring each proposed enhancement.

140. Where can motor carriers see all of their own SMS data?

Answer

Carriers can view their own safety data by logging in to the SMS Website. This is the SMS Preview site where carriers can see how the proposed enhancements may impact their SMS results.

141. What will the question and answer (Q&A) webinars on the proposed enhancements cover, and where can I register for one?

Answer

FMCSA is holding four Q&A sessions for the public, where you will be able to ask questions about the proposed enhancements and receive real-time responses. The schedule for the sessions is provided below.

  • Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 10:00-11:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET)
  • Thursday, October 13, 2016, 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, October 20, 2016, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET

Before the Q&A sessions, you can view a video presentation on the proposed changes and how to use the preview site. You can also review slides and a transcript of that presentation. All of these materials are available on the Resources page in the Help Center. Then simply join in online for a Q&A session of your choice. Each session will end once all questions have been answered. We encourage you to submit questions before the Q&A sessions via the CSA Feedback form.

Register for one of the sessions via the here.

142. I still have questions—where can I find more help?

Answer

If you are not able to find an answer to your question in the Help Center, please contact our CSA InfoLine Team at 1-877-254-5365, or fill out this form.

143. Does the adjudicated citations policy impact inspection records?

Answer

The policy does not require the modification of roadside inspection reports. Rather, it appends further information on the results of citations issued for violations cited during roadside inspections to the inspection records in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).

144. Will the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data systems be automatically updated with the results of adjudicated citations?

Answer

No. Commercial drivers and motor carriers must submit Requests for Data Review, or RDRs, with copies of certified court documentation and the inspection details to initiate this process. It is the responsibility of motor carriers and drivers to make sure their safety record is complete and has the most current information possible.

145. When did the adjudicated citations policy take effect?

Answer

The adjudicated citations policy applies to inspections conducted on or after August 23, 2014. For more information, see the Federal Register Notice published June 5, 2014.

146. What is the proposed enhancement to the HM Compliance BASIC?

Answer

FMCSA proposes an enhancement to the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) to make it more effective at identifying motor carriers with HM compliance problems for interventions. This enhancement includes:

  • Segmenting this BASIC by Discerning Cargo Tank and Non-Cargo Tank Operations
    Industry stakeholders raised concerns to FMCSA that large non-cargo tank HM carriers have difficulty improving in the HM Compliance BASIC because they are compared to cargo tank HM carriers. Cargo tank and non-cargo tank operations often result in different violations. Segmenting these carriers would enable the SMS to account for these differences when assigning percentiles in this BASIC.
  • Adjusting this BASIC’s Intervention Threshold
    We propose adjusting the HM Compliance BASIC’s Intervention Threshold from 80 percent to 90 percent to reflect its lower correlation to crash risk.

To learn more about this proposed change, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

147. How do I know if my company’s HM placardable vehicle inspection is a cargo tank inspection?

Answer

A Hazardous Materials (HM) placardable vehicle inspection is classified as a cargo tank inspection if the carrier’s cargo tank type on its inspection report is MC 300 Series, DOT 400 Series, or Other. All other HM placardable inspections are classified as non-cargo tank inspections.

148. Why is FMCSA proposing these enhancements to the SMS?

Answer

FMCSA is committed to continually evolving and enhancing the SMS in response to new data, stakeholder feedback, and analyses to make our roads safer for everyone. That is why we propose enhancements to the SMS that put our SMS Effectiveness Test (ET) and stakeholder input to work to more effectively prioritize those motor carriers that pose the greatest safety risk for interventions. These proposed enhancements to the SMS would allow us to sharpen our focus on carriers with high crash rates, prioritize our investigative resources on carriers with more crash involvement, more accurately account for the carriers that possess increased exposure due to above average Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT), and strengthen Hazardous Materials (HM) compliance. Results from our SMS ET show that these proposed changes would identify carriers for prioritization that have a crash rate 8 percent higher than those identified by the current methodology (from 4.82 to 5.21 crashes per 100 Power Units (PUs)).

To learn more about these proposed enhancements, review the Foundational Document. You can also visit the SMS Preview Homepage to tour each of the proposed enhancements.

149. When can I submit comments on the proposed enhancements?

Answer

During the public preview, you can submit comments on the proposed enhancements and a second Federal Register Notice via the Federal docket.

150. What is the proposed enhancement to the data sufficiency standards?

Answer

FMCSA proposes an enhancement to sharpen our focus on motor carriers with recent violations. We propose to simplify our data sufficiency standards by only assigning Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentiles to carriers that have had an inspection with a violation in the past year. Currently, we assign percentiles in the Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance, and Driver Fitness BASICs to carriers that meet the following criteria: the most recent inspection from the past two years resulted in a violation.

To learn more about this proposed change, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

151. What is the proposed enhancement to the Utilization Factor?

Answer

The Utilization Factor accounts for the motor carriers that possess increased exposure due to above average Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT). These carriers are also referred to as high-utilization carriers. We propose adjusting their average Power Unit (PU) values when calculating measures in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Carriers with higher Utilization Factors would see a reduction in their measures for the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs.

Industry stakeholders noted that the current limit for the Utilization Factor of 200,000 VMT per average PU does not accurately reflect the increased exposure of these carriers. FMCSA proposes expanding the range over which the Utilization Factor is applied from 200,000 to 250,000 VMT per average PU to more accurately account for these carriers.

To learn more about this proposed change, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

152. What is the proposed enhancement to the VMT data requirements?

Answer

FMCSA proposes an enhancement to the Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) data requirements to improve the consistency of this data in our systems. We will align VMT data update requirements in the SMS with the Unified Registration System (URS), our electronic online registration system.

Motor carriers report their annual VMT along with the associated calendar year on their registration form, or MCS-150. Currently, the SMS only uses VMT data from the registration form when the associated calendar year is within 24 months of the current year. The SMS uses this VMT data to calculate the Utilization Factor in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Under this proposed change, the SMS will use this data to calculate the Utilization Factor if a carrier’s VMT data is up to date with URS requirements, regardless of the year the data was last updated.

To learn more about how this proposed change will improve our focus on recent violations, review the Foundational Document. You can also Tour this Change to see this proposed enhancement in action.

To learn more about URS, visit the URS Website.

153. Where can I access the reference materials for the question and answer (Q&A) sessions?

Answer

All of the reference materials for the Q&A sessions are available on the Resources page of the Help Center. Once there, you can review the video presentation, as well as the slides and transcript of that presentation. You can also access the video here and the transcript here.

154. How can I submit comments on the proposed enhancements?

Answer

To comment on these proposed enhancements, visit the Federal Register Notice.

155. What Safety Measurement System (SMS) is available to the public?

Answer

Pursuant to the FAST Act of 2015, certain property carrier data is in no longer available for public display on the SMS Website. The public can view property carrier data including inspection and crash data, investigation results, and measures for all public Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASICs remain unavailable to the public. The public can also view all passenger carrier data.

In businesses, where the quality of customer experiences and satisfaction are critical, mindful leadership has an opportunity to flourish and produce results.

Barry Moniak

In human endeavor, mindful leadership is considered a most challenging undertaking, yet something of which humanity is always in need.

Mindfulness, in simple terms, is a practiced technique of focusing one’s attention on the present—while maintaining an equal awareness of the past and the future. In a mindful state, we can experience thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgement—like an impartial and unbiased observer.

A leader is defined, obviously, as a person who leads. And, to lead is to go before or with, to show the way, to escort or afford passage to a place. Yet the term leadership has, unfortunately, been relegated over time to mean nothing more than a position or function of power and control over people. 

Dictionary definitions aside, mindful leaders possess a developed ability to assess people and situations. They are also future thinkers, evaluating potential risks and rewards in decision-making processes. This allows them to avoid landmines while exploring future possibilities which could lead to optimal results.

These days, leadership in larger organizations often has little, if anything, to do with mindfulness or leading people to a good (or better) place. Leadership in today’s world is too often about coercing, even manipulating people into doing things in such a way as to fulfill a particular agenda.

In businesses, where the quality of customer experiences and satisfaction are critical, mindful leadership has an opportunity to flourish and produce results. This helps create commitment-based relationships where leaders earn our trust and respect—and prove themselves worthy of our following.

If you are currently in a leadership position, ask yourself…

Do people follow your lead because they willingly choose to, or because they must? 

If those you lead were given a choice to follow you or not, without fear of negative consequences, would they do so of their own volition?

Being a Good Listener

As leaders, being ready, willing and able to face credible feedback on inquiries like these may initially be intimidating, yet one’s ability to do so is a telling mark of a true mindful leader.

Being acknowledged as a leader who is receptive to both feedback and input identifies you as an empathetic listener. The act of mindful listening is one of the more critical components of mindful leadership.

These open lines of questioning and listening are self-effacing and self-revealing. Not only do they show how we perceive ourselves in our leadership position—they also enlighten us as to how we are being perceived by those we lead. It reveals their impression of us as a leader and allows them to be considered as a valued contributor to the company.

This also lays a foundation for organic team formulation. When people feel like they can openly express themselves to those in leadership positions, it creates a culture where they feel more comfortable with each other. It removes the divisiveness of “us versus them” and gives them a sense of being on a winning team. 

Engage & Empower Employees

Leadership is much like a double-edged sword. A company without mindful leadership is not likely to produce the most desirable results. Likewise, a company without an engaged community of employees is also not likely to achieve optimal results. 

Successful businesses, especially in a challenging economy, need both mindful leaders and engaged followers. This can be accomplished only when leaders use effective language to communicate internally and externally.

Too often, people in leadership positions are under a false impression that the way they approach the job of leadership is the most effective way of accomplishing the task at hand. Nothing could be further from the truth. People will always respond more favorably when they are being led in a manner that suits them and inspires them to like, trust and respect you as a person.

So, where does mindful leadership start? It begins within each of us. We are given both a mind and a body and effective communication between the two is critical for our health and well-being. If we desire to improve a level of performance in a particular field, how well we articulate that communication between our mind and body will ultimately determine the outcome.

Clearly Articulate Goals

Organizations have a similar make-up. The mind of a company is the human interaction and the body is the functional operation. All businesses, regardless of industry, include these two components. 

Having responsibility for the quality of human interaction within an organization is a key reason why so many people shy away from leadership positions. It takes a lot of work on the part of a mindful leader to show up in such a way that their people are more likely to: a) follow them; b) feel valued by them; and c) make great things happen within the business.

An ongoing task of a mindful leader is to articulate the organization’s vision and mission through commitment-based language and communication. This creates an internal company culture of stewardship where everyone is on the same page as to “who we are, what we stand for, why we do what we do, who we serve and how we go about providing our products and/or services.” 

Businesses with mindful leadership at the core are readily seen, heard and felt by those who do business with us. And, happy patrons make for demonstrable results in every aspect of our enterprises, including the bottom line!

From Dennis McGee

Let’s discuss training. Imagine if you had a bucket of water and every time you attempted to fill the bucket, 95% of water would leak out instantly. Every time, all you’d retain was a measly 5%. How many times would you keep filling the bucket?

Drivers retain approximately:

90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use IMMEDIATELY

75% of what they learn when the practice what they learned

50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion

30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration

20% of what they learn from audio-visual

10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading

5% of what they learn when attending a lecture safety meeting

Over my career I have observed hundreds of motor carrier safety presentations. I have seen that the Safety Department staff have spent countless hours putting together a ppt. presentation (The presentation contains good stuff, BUT remember only 5% of the presentation is retained). Numerous times the safety training follows a long safety day which has subject drivers to many other presentations deliberates why these drivers have failed to comprehend and adhere to the information given in these presentations.

Look at your drivers, I see them emailing, sending each other texts and jokes, talking, sleeping and day dreaming.

Remember the three leg stool in driver training:

1.  Train
2.  Have drivers practice/rehearse the instructions
3.  Ensure that the training is being followed

NOTE: Driver training is like football – the players TRAIN, PRACTICE and the coaches ENSURE that the training has been followed.

KISS – Keep It Simple and Short

By Doug Marcello

THE POINT: “Yard Move” can be a key to HOS compliance. The FMCSA seeks to clear up “what’s a yard move” with proposed guidance.
The Importance: We’ve all heard the old saying, “give them an inch and they’ll take a yard move”. Or something like that. OK, maybe not, be we should.  

“Yard moves” are important to ELD’s and, in fact, all HOS Regs. For ELD’s, it is one of two special categories that manufacturers are required to include (the other–“personal conveyance–there’s a safety conference trivia question waiting to happen). 

For HOS, it provides an opportunity for activity that does go on the “driving” line. Recent guidance provides that a “yard move” is not “driving” time. It is recorded “on duty (not driving)”.  

As such, “yard moves” can be used to satisfy the 30 minute break requirement. If, of course, it’s part of a 30-consecutive minute break.  

Bottom line–the “yard move” does not count against the 11 hours driving limit and doesn’t lose the break. 

Proposed Guidance: OK, so when is a yard move a “yard move”? Well, if the proposed guidance is adopted, “only if the movement of the CMV occurs in a confined area on private property (or intermodal facility or briefly on public roads as described below). 

The proposal gives four examples of properties that would qualify. The first three are pretty straight forward;

-Intermodal yard or port facility
-Motor Carrier’s place of business
-Shipper’s privately-owned parking lot. 

Makes sense. But what about that “public road” reference? Well, the fourth is a “public road”, BUT ONLY IF AND WHILE:  

-public access is restricted – by traffic control measures-such as lights, gates, flaggers, “or other means”. 

Briefly driving on a public road to get from one part of private property to another may be considered a “yard move” IF public access is limited during the move. IF public access is not limited by the move is made–no “yard move”.  So what is NOT a “yard” that qualifies as a property for a “yard move”? These would include a movement on a public road without the listed traffic control measures or “public rest areas”.  

The Takeaway–“Yard Moves” can a valuable resource in managing HOS. If this proposal goes through, stay off unrestricted public roads, and public rest areas, to preserve the status.
When?What happened?What does it mean?
Jan. 6The new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse was launched.Motor carriers must query the database for all new drivers and annually for all existing CDL drivers, and must ensure that violations are reported to the Clearinghouse.
Jan. 15FMCSA launched a new Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study.When complete in roughly two years, the study should shed light on ways to prevent truck and bus crashes.
Feb. 4The compliance deadline for new entry-level driver training rules was pushed back two years to February 7, 2022.Motor carriers need to continue complying with the new-driver training rules in Part 380 for at least another year. The 2022 rules will require drivers to obtain training as a prerequisite to getting a new CDL or endorsement.
Feb. 28FMCSA launched a study of the problem of harassment and assaults against minority and female truckers.The study, scheduled for completion this year, could lead to recommendations for preventing driver harassment and assaults.
March 13FMCSA began issuing a series of waivers and exemptions for drivers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these were eventually extended through the end of 2020.A list of current FMCSA exemptions and waivers is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19.
March 23TSA issued a final rule requiring security training for motorcoach drivers operating on fixed routes into or out of 10 major metro areas.Though the rolling compliance deadlines have been delayed (training programs are now due by March 22, 2021), affected bus companies will still need to comply with the new rules in 49 CFR Part 1570.
April 1Drivers found with violations in the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse began being placed out of service.Motor carriers may never use a driver who is listed in the Clearinghouse as being “prohibited” from driving.
April 28FMCSA issued a proposed rule to require states to downgrade CDL drivers’ licenses whenever a drug or alcohol violation is added to the Clearinghouse.The FMCSA could issue the final rule at any time, though implementation by the states will take time.
May 6FMCSA launched an enhanced Crash Preventability Determination Program.Motor carriers and drivers can use DataQs to challenge the preventability of 10 types of reportable crashes.
May 19Due to the pandemic, FMCSA began conducting off-site compliance reviews.Motor carriers are being audited from a remote location and asked to upload compliance documents via an online portal. They can even receive a safety rating without ever seeing the auditor.
June 1Four key provisions in the hours-of-service rules were revised, adding needed flexibility for truck and bus drivers.As of Sept. 29, 2020, drivers can take advantage of new flexibility related to 30-minute breaks, short-haul operations, sleeper-berth usage, and adverse conditions.
Aug. 17A new version of the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) was approved for use.The new form must be used for all drug tests starting no later than August 30, 2021.
Aug. 17FMCSA removed the requirement that bus drivers complete no-defect DVIRs.Bus drivers are now exempt from needing to complete post-trip inspection reports when there are no defects to report.
Sept. 3FMCSA launched a pilot program to study whether drivers should be allowed to pause the 14-hour clock with rest breaks of up to 3 hours.If the study is a success, the FMCSA may change its rules to allow all truck drivers to pause the 14-hour clock.
Sept. 10The Department of Health proposed new guidelines for hair testing.If finalized, the DOT and FMCSA will need to amend their drug testing rules to allow hair testing in place of urine.
Sept. 25FMCSA updated the list of violations tracked in its CSA program.Most changes involved an expansion of existing violations and were insignificant. In all, 63 new violations were added, 4 were removed, the 34 received new descriptions.
Oct. 8FMCSA issued an exemption allowing pulsating brake lights on tanker trucks to help prevent rear-end crashes.The five-year exemption allows motor carriers to install pulsating red or amber brake lights on tankers.
Nov. 24FMCSA issued a new rule clarifying the definition of agricultural commodity, effective December 9.New definitions in §395.2 expand the number of carriers eligible for two agriculture-related hours-of-service exceptions.

FMCSA is proposing to revise the regulatory guidance concerning
recording time operating a commercial motor vehicle as a “yard move.” This guidance applies to all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers required to record their hours of service.

The Agency requests public comments on the proposed guidance, which includes examples of properties that are and are not “yards.” Movements of CMVs in “yards” would be considered “yard moves” and could be recorded as on-duty not driving time rather than driving time.

View the notice here.

How to get back on track after a disappointing Compliance Review.

Check out this excellent article by our friend Deborah Lockridge.

FMCSA RuleSummaryStatus
Application by Certain Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers to Operate Beyond U.S. Municipalities and Commercial Zones on the U.S.-Mexico BorderThe international agreement would change regulations that govern applications and would require additional information on the applicant’s business and operating practices.Undetermined. Delays attributed to unanticipated issues requiring further analysis.
MAP-21 Enhancements and Other Updates to the Unified Registration SystemWould implement several provisions of MAP-21 as they relate to the Unified Registration System. Would update and codify the agency’s procedures for granting, suspending, and revoking registration. The intent is to allow for greater uniformity, transparency, efficiency and predictability in those processes, according to the FMCSA.Undetermined. An NPRM was published on September 20, with comments accepted through November 22.
Consumer Complaint InformationWould require carriers of household goods to submit quarterly reports of complaints received.Undetermined. Delays attributed to lack of resources and lack of staffing.
Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders, and BrokersWould increase minimum insurance requirements for freight and passenger motor carriers.ANPRM. The FMCSA accepted comments through last fall on several key regulatory issues related to this rule.
New Entrant Safety Assurance ProcessWould improve methods to ensure new applicant carriers are knowledgeable about safety requirements.Undetermined. Delays attributed to additional coordination needs.
Safety Monitoring System and Compliance Initiative for Mexico-Domiciled Motor Carriers Operating in the United StatesThis international agreement would implement a system to evaluate the safety fitness of Mexico-domiciled carriers within 18 months of being granted authority to operate in the U.S. Would also establish suspension and revocation procedures.Undetermined. Delays attributed to unanticipated issues requiring further analysis.
Heavy Vehicle Speed LimitersThis rule would require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks.NPRM was published on 9/7/16 and ended on 11/7/16.
Amendments to Motor Carrier Safety Assistance ProgramProposes amendments to address changes in the Agency’s grant programs resulting from Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.NPRM. This rule has seen delays because it’s awaiting the development of additional data.
Safe Integration of Automated Driving Systems-Equipped Commercial Motor Vehicles The FMCSA has requested public comment about the current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and whether they’ll need to be updated, modified or eliminated to make the safe introduction of automated driving systems on our nation’s roadways easier.ANPRM was published in late May with comments accepted through the end of August.
Hours of Service of Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles; Transportation of Agricultural Commodities In an effort to create a clearer definition of the term “Agricultural commodity,” the FMCSA is seeking public comment and data on the issue.ANPRM. Comments were open through September 27.
Controlled Substances and Alcohol Testing: State Driver’s Licensing Agency Downgrade of CDLThe FMCSA is proposing that all State Driver’s Licensing Agencies remove commercial driving privileges from anyone who violates the current drug or alcohol regulations. Privileges would not be reinstated until the return-to-duty process is complete.NPRM. No further information is available.