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FMCSA Extends Comment Period for SMS Preview

June 5, 2012

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is giving carriers more time to comment on the proposed changes to its Safety Measurement System.


SMS is the workload prioritization tool that helps FMCSA identify motor carriers for safety intervention under its Compliance, Safety, Accountability system.

The changes, part of an ongoing CSA revision process, touch on several of the BASIC (Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories) that are at the heart of the enforcement system.

The agency plans to move cargo and load securement violations out of the Cargo-Related BASIC and into the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC.

This is in in response to concern in the industry and enforcement community that flatbed carriers are getting significantly higher Cargo-Related scores than other types of carriers, simply because their load securement issues are more apparent during inspections. The agency said that in its analysis it found that the new approach corrects the bias against flatbeds and still identifies carriers that have cargo securement problems.

In another move, the agency is changing the Cargo-Related BASIC to a new category, the Hazardous Materials BASIC, and is changing the way hazmat carriers are identified.

The rationale is that the system has not done a good enough job of finding carriers with hazmat compliance issues, because they have been undercounted in relation to carriers with load securement issues.

To be identified as a hazmat hauler, a carrier must have at least two inspections on a vehicle carrying placarded hazmats within the past 24 months. One of those inspections has to be within the past year and must make up at least 5% of the carrier's total inspections.

In other changes, the agency:

* Will start applying carrier violations of intermodal chassis requirements to the Vehicle BASIC.

* Will eliminate vehicle violations from driver-only inspections, and driver violations from vehicle-only inspections.

* Will no longer use the terms "inconclusive" and "insufficient data" to describe a carrier's CSA performance. Instead, the agency will use specifics, such as "fewer than five inspections," or "no violations within one year."

The SMS Preview comment period has been extended to July 30. FMCSA will review comments and make any necessary changes prior to implementation. Carriers can access the SMS Preview through two FMCSA websites:

- Visit the Compliance, Safety, Accountability website and log in with an FMCSA-issued U.S. Department of Transportation number and a personal identification number, or
- Log in to the FMCSA Portal and select the "CSA Outreach" link.

On the CSA Website's Resources page, visitors can access a foundational document that provides additional information about this first set of SMS changes. A Federal Register Notice outlining the changes is also available for review.

Written comments regarding the changes can be filed to the Federal Docket Management System, Docket ID Number FMCSA-2012-0074.

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