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FMCSA Proposes New Change that Could Lead to Increased Driver Inspections

Have you seen the new FMCSA proposed change?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed significant changes to its Safety Management System (SMS), aiming to improve its ability to identify high-risk carriers and intervene to prevent crashes and fatalities. The SMS uses data from roadside inspections and crash reports to assess carriers' safety performance and determine their level of risk.

The proposed changes include reorganizing the SMS's safety categories, currently known as "BASICs," into three broader categories: Safety, Crash, and Intervention. The Safety category would include four BASICs: Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, and Driver Fitness. The Crash category would include one BASIC: Crash Indicator. The Intervention category would include two BASICs: Controlled Substances/Alcohol and Hazmat Compliance.

The agency also proposes to organize roadside violations into violation groups for prioritization purposes. Currently, the SMS assigns severity weights to each violation based on its potential to cause a crash. The proposed changes would group violations into nine violation groups based on the behavior they indicate, such as speed, lane changes, or braking. The violation groups would then be used to prioritize carriers for intervention.

Another proposed change is to simplify violation severity weights by assigning one severity weight to each violation group. Currently, violations can have different severity weights based on the specific regulation they violate. Simplifying the severity weights would make it easier for carriers to understand their safety performance and for the FMCSA to identify high-risk carriers.

The agency also proposes to adjust some of the Intervention Thresholds, which determine when a carrier is flagged for possible intervention, based on its safety performance relative to other carriers in its peer group. The peer group approach would compare carriers with similar characteristics, such as size, type of operation, and geographic location, to provide a fairer and more accurate assessment of their safety performance.

Finally, the agency proposes several changes aimed at comparing similar motor carriers to each other, such as updating the peer grouping methodology to better reflect the industry's diversity and considering the safety performance of drivers who have moved between carriers.

The proposed changes aim to make the SMS more effective at identifying high-risk carriers and intervening to prevent crashes and fatalities. By simplifying the safety categories and violation severity weights, carriers would have a clearer understanding of their safety performance and how to improve it. The peer grouping approach would provide a fairer and more accurate assessment of carriers' safety performance, and the new violation groups would help prioritize carriers for intervention.

The FMCSA is accepting feedback on the proposed changes until May 16th, and carriers and other stakeholders are encouraged to provide their input. The agency will review the feedback and make any necessary changes before finalizing the SMS changes.

Carriers can also take steps to improve their safety performance and reduce their risk of intervention. Partnering with a fleet services provider like Fleet360 Services can help carriers identify areas for improvement and implement best practices to improve their safety metrics. Fleet services providers can also help carriers stay up-to-date with regulatory changes and compliance requirements, reducing the risk of violations and interventions.

In conclusion, the FMCSA's proposed changes to the SMS aim to improve its effectiveness at identifying high-risk carriers and intervening to prevent crashes and fatalities. The proposed changes include reorganizing the safety categories, organizing violations into violation groups, simplifying violation severity weights, adjusting Intervention Thresholds, and comparing similar motor carriers to each other. Carriers and other stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposed changes, and fleet services providers can assist carriers in improving their safety performance and reducing their risk of intervention.

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