A 1x1 Truck Insurance Quotes logo image that's used on the brand's facebook page.

Do a driver’s safety violations affect a motor carrier’s SMS ranking?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) designed the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program for two primary reasons. The first is to improve driver safety and the second is to prevent wrecks, injuries, and deaths involving commercial motor vehicles. The CSA program further consists of three components. These include a Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rating system to help determine safety among commercial drivers, interventions, and the Safety Management System (SMS). It’s common for both drivers and employers to question whether a driver’s crash history and safety violations follow him or her in the SMS.

How the SMS obtains and uses data

The SMS considers a range of data beyond out of service orders to evaluate and rank drivers for safety. This includes the results of roadside inspections with or without violations and crashes reported at the state level, regardless of fault. By using performance data over the past 24 months, the SMS ranks drivers according to seven different categories under the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) program.

Currently, the FMCSA is encouraging law enforcement in all states to collect and upload inspection information electronically. Approximately 95 percent of all reports arrive to the FMCSA within a 21-day window, allowing for the most timely and accurate information available about driver violations. Although this is an impressive number with approximately three million roadside inspections taking place annually, the FMCSA provides grants and resources to states to get that number up to 100 percent.

Safety violations tied to a carrier’s USDOT Number

Every carrier receives a unique identification number assigned by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). The FMCSA only considers violations that occurred under the USDOT number and not anything that occurred prior to hire and after termination. That means that any pre-employment or post-employment violations do not affect the driver or the carrier’s rating with the SMS.

Despite this SMS methodology, it’s important for drivers and motor carriers to understand that violations remain part of the record for 24 months whether a driver remains employed with the motor carrier or not. Each time-weighted event will lessen in severity over the course of 24 months until it drops off SMS entirely.

Violations that occurred six months ago or less will maintain the greatest weight against the driver ranking, even if he or she doesn’t maintain employment as a commercial driver. The SMS multiples most recent events by three to come up with a severity ranking. Driver violations that occurred between six and 12 months ago are worth double the weight under SMS methodology while the agency multiplies those that occurred between 12 and 24 months ago by one.

Is it time for an insurance check-up?

Keeping up with the regulations of the FMCSA and USDOT can sometimes seem like a full-time job. That may not leave much time to shop for insurance to make sure you’re getting the best rates and have all the coverage you need. Our team makes it easy by allowing you to get multiple quotes for truck insurance. Getting started with truck insurance quotes is as simple as filling out our online form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.