The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (DOT FMCSA) has recently incorporated changes to their Safety Measurement System (SMS) in an effort to further improve their ability to accurately measure motor carrier’s on-road safety history, performance and compliance. After a March 27, 2012 announcement of proposed changes to the SMS, initially implemented in December 2010, enforcement personnel, motor carriers and the public at large were given a two-month period to review and comment on new provisions being added.
Trucking companies, police agencies and citizen advocacy groups such as Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) and The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Foundation (CRASH) were all provided access to the new SMS documentation and given a means to comment on the proposed improvements to the program. The Safety Measurement System is designed to identify high-risk or otherwise unsafe motor carriers and to implement enforcement intervention as a way of reducing commercial vehicle accidents and hazardous materials incidents. Proposed changes include:
- Improved methods of identifying high-risk carriers
- More accurate identification of safety-sensitive carriers, such as those transporting people or those hauling hazardous materials
- More specific and fact-based results of the program displayed on the SMS website
The Push for Compliance, Safety and Accountability is Important Trucking Industry News
While any changes to government regulations affecting transport carriers is usually big trucking industry news, improvements to the FMCSA Safety Measurement System extends to a much wider audience. The push to reduce commercial motor vehicle accidents causing injuries and fatalities on the nation’s highways has the potential of creating a safer driving environment for everyone. With the new SMS changes having been put into effect as of December 2012, the federal government’s efforts at further increasing compliance, safety and accountability of motor carriers and drivers is expected to save lives.
The SMS uses data available from FMCSA gathered through traffic enforcement, roadside inspections and the intervention process. These data are grouped into seven BASICs, or Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories:
- Unsafe driving
- Hours-of-Service (previously referred to as fatigued driving)
- Driver fitness
- Controlled substances and alcohol
- Vehicle maintenance
- Cargo related
- Crash history
Several of the changes made to the SMS have been implemented as a means of better aligning its requirements with those followed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the organization responsible for commercial vehicle inspections and enforcement activities.