The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that has oversight over the commercial trucking industry. Improving the safety of large commercial trucks and buses is a top priority of the FMCSA. Towards that goal, they launched the Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program. At the core of CSA is the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which analyzes violations from inspections and crash data to identifying carriers who were showing a pattern of unsafe practices. The SMS could use that data to help those trucking companies to correct any emerging pattern of safety violations to prevent traffic accidents and fatalities.
The Safety Measurement System holds trucking companies accountable for safety violations
The CSA established seven categories for safety evaluation, which are called the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Carriers and fleet operators are measured in each of the following categories by the SMS:
- Unsafe driving
- Crash indicator
- HOS (hours of service) Compliance
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Controlled Substances/Alcohol
- HM (hazardous materials) compliance
- Driver fitness
The FMCSA uses the safety measurement system to track data from violations of roadside inspections and truck crashes to track performance. Carriers are placed in groups with other carriers with similar inspection results and then they are ranked using percentiles between 0 and 100 with 100 being the worst. The SMS analyzes carrier performance and recommends interventions based on the results.
The DOT has a pilot program which will allow commercial truck drivers to dispute crashes that occurred on or after June 1, 2017, that had been ruled preventable, and some drivers may be able to have those crashes removed from their CSA scores.
An example of a carrier’s SMS profile
You can visit the CSA website to see an example of a Florida carrier’s SMS profile page, which includes their BASICs status, penalties history and summary of activities, which includes how many inspections and how many reportable crashes the carrier’s trucks have been involved in.
The CSA SMS is under fire
The trucking industry is not pleased with the initial transparency of the SMS, so there is a challenge underway regarding which aspects should be visible to the public and which should be kept private. Trucking industry lobbyists are challenging many aspects of the program including the percentile ranking system, and in response, Congress is asking for an overhaul of the safety measurement system.
Given that there were 4,337 traffic fatalities from large truck and bus crashes in 2015 (most recent data available), the FMCSA is working towards improving safety while the trucking industry attempts to thwart their efforts at every turn.
The transparency that the SMS provides is helpful when it is time to investigate a truck accident. Seeing if a truck driver or trucking company has a history of safety violations is useful information for a Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney when determining liability in a truck crash.
If you were injured in a truck accident, contact Yeboah Law Group to discuss your case. We handle personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so you do not pay attorney fees until we recover compensation for you. Call us at 1-800-TELL-SAM or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
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