The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains strict safety requirements for motor carriers and drivers. The Driver Fitness Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) is one of seven overall categories used to compare and rank carriers based on safety. BASIC is part of an overall initiative to improve roadway safety and conditions for all and is part of the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) plan.
What is the Driver Fitness BASIC?
The Driver Fitness is a measurement of the overall ability of a driver to safely operate a truck, motor carrier or related vehicle in compliance with FMCSA and CSA guidelines. “Fitness” refers to being fit to drive – while there is a physical health component, it is only a small portion of the Driver Fitness ranking and scale. Driver Fitness is for any individual, business, or organization that operates Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) and requires drivers to be properly trained and mentally and physically fit to drive.
Each carrier has a Driver Fitness BASIC ranking; the lower your Driver Fitness number is, the better you are at complying with this important component of BASIC.
How is Driver Fitness measured?
A number of measurements and events are considered when a carrier’s Driver Fitness BASIC is calculated; these include:
- Results of roadside inspections and the number of violations
- Total number of crashes, BASIC violations, and adverse safety events
- The overall severity of incidents, violations, and crashes
- When the events occurred – recent events weigh more heavily on your score than older ones.
During roadside inspections, a severity weight is assigned to any discovered BASIC violations; this weight is calculated based on the violation itself and its typical relationship to crashes. Each violation can range in severity from a 1 to a 10. Numbers on the low side of the scale are still violations but represent low crash or collision risk. Higher numbers indicate a higher risk of incident or crash and are considered more severe.
How to optimize your Driver Fitness BASIC Score
Keeping your Driver Fitness Basic Score low will help you stay in compliance and on the road. It will also naturally reduce the number of accidents your organization experiences. Learning how this score is calculated and what factors are included can help you attain a good score. Use the following tips to get the best possible score on your Driver Fitness BASIC.
- Provide education and training about driver health and fitness. Regular sessions about the importance of wellness and eating right on the road can improve your team’s physical health.
- Make sure all drivers can communicate in English. Your team does not have to be fluent, but they should be able to read traffic signs and converse with others in an understandable way.
- Track document expiration dates. Your drivers have important qualification documents that must be on file and up to date to get the best possible score.
- Provide regular training on BASIC and red flag violations. Your drivers should be aware of and attend to any potential issues while on the road.
- Perform your own Motor Vehicle Record searches occasionally. This will allow you to spot any potential issues before an official MVR does.
- Offer driver incentives for good MVR results and for your top quality drivers.
- Remove drivers who refuse to change to adapt to CSA or with soaring scores that don’t come down, even after training.
Learning more about BASIC can help you get the best possible scores and prevent disruptions and downtime. You can see your overall BASIC status on the SMS website and discover if your Driver Fitness BASIC needs attention.
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