FMCSA makes updates to its SMS website

The United States Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said this week that it has updated its Safety Measurement System (SMS) website, adding that complete SMS results are now available to enforcement users and motor carriers that are logged into the SMS website.

The objective of the SMS is to focus on reducing and preventing crashes. 

This follows a February FMCSA announcement, in which it rolled out proposed changes to the SMS.

“Safety is FMCSA’s core mission. The proposed changes are part of the Agency’s continued commitment to enhancing the fairness, accuracy, and clarity of our prioritization system,” said FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson in a statement, in February. 

FMCSA said that some of the proposed changes include:

  • reorganizing the SMS’s safety categories, currently known as “BASICs”, which include driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, alcohol and drugs, vehicle maintenance, cargo security (now HM Compliance) and crash history;
  • organizing roadside violations into violation groups for prioritization purposes;
  • simplifying violation severity weights; 
  • adjusting some of the Intervention Thresholds that identify companies for possible intervention; and
  • more changes aimed at comparing similar motor carriers to each other

FMCSA officials explained that SMS uses data from roadside inspections, crash reports, and investigations to identify and prioritize for intervention the motor carriers that pose the greatest risk to safety.  And they added that as part of its “commitment to continually improve how the Agency uses data to focus enforcement,” the proposed changes are focused on how to better identify the companies needing the most intervention, as well as help companies better understand how to use this data to influence safer behaviors.

And FMCSA also said a new website—the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) Prioritization Preview—is live and represents the first phase of planned updates to SMS, with motor carriers able to visit it to get a preview of how their data would appear under the proposed changes. FMCSA added that companies can preview these results and also submit their feedback on the proposed SMS changes to FMCSA at the Federal Register website.

A 90-day comment period began on February 15, with comments due by May 16, said FMCSA. It added that it will hold public online question and answer webinars. The first session was held on March 7, with the remaining ones scheduled for March 14 and March 15. 

Jeff Tucker, president of Haddonfield, N.J.-based Tucker Worldwide, the nation's oldest freight brokerage, recently told LM that these proposed changes serve as an optimistic sign that FMCSA does not want to repeat the mistakes of its past.

“My two primary positive takeaways are, (a) this language is geared to motor carriers who must log in to see their data (so it's not data that's publicly available); (b) it explains that the data helps FMCSA prioritize its intervention,” he explained. “In 2010, some individuals at FMCSA turned a promising CSA program into a monstrosity by making the BASIC scores public. It devastated the public's trust in FMCSA and brought into question its credibility and integrity of the system. These few individuals' intent was to ‘deputize’ shippers and brokers who hire carriers by publishing the scores, as if any of the scores inferred something related to safety—which they flatly did not. As long as these new scores are used exclusively by FMCSA, applicable law enforcement and the motor carriers, they've got the beginnings of a winning program. If these scores go public again, FMCSA will immediately create mushroom shaped clouds in courtrooms across the land which will, in turn, doom the program.” 

Article Topics

FMCSA News & Resources

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FMCSA makes updates to its SMS website
FMCSA rolls out proposed changes to SMS, focusing on reducing and preventing crashes
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Hutcheson formally named as FMCSA Administrator
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Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review and is a contributor to Robotics 24/7. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis.
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