The Safety Measurement System (SMS), a branch of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), identifies and intervenes with drivers who have demonstrated unsafe driving behavior. It uses seven distinct categories, known as BASICs, to identify, categorize, and rank drivers to prioritize for intervention. BASIC stands for Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories and includes the following categories:
- Unsafe driving
- Crash indicator
- Hours of service compliance
- Vehicle maintenance
- Controlled substances and alcohol
- Hazardous materials compliance
- Driver fitness
After the SMS receives data that ranks drivers against others with a similar number of violations in the same categories, it mails a letter to those with the highest percentile first informing them of the intervention. Although commercial drivers do not need to respond to the letter, they must improve their performance within a specified time or risk receiving an out-of-service notice.
How the SMS obtains data to categorize, rank, and prioritize drivers.
The Safety Measurement System uses the past 24 months of performance data for motor carriers that it obtains from roadside inspections and crashes reported at the state level. It reviews any crash that occurred in the past 24 months and assigns it BASIC scores and categories. However, it does not consider all data the same and uses a specific methodology when calculating scores for crashes, inspections, and violations. This method is as follows:
- Events that occurred six months ago or less are multiplied by three and receive the highest time weight.
- Events that occurred between six months and one day and 12 months ago are multiplied by two.
- Events that occurred between 12 months and one day and 24 months ago are multiplied by one and receive the lowest time weight.
The Safety Measurement System only evaluates motor carriers based on crashes and inspections under the individual identification number they receive from the Department of Transportation (DOT). Your history before you began working as a commercial driver and after you terminate employment are not reflected in your SMS score. All data will remain a part of the SMS record for 24 months after terminating employment and then drop off.
Roadside inspections and electronic reporting by states
The FMCSA actively promotes collecting inspection data electronically for all states. It supports this effort by offering grants to states to purchase laptops and software to submit electronic data. While some states still complete this process manually on paper, most are working towards the goal of electronic submission.
The FMCSA has provided an incentive for state compliance by creating new inspection performance data measures to increase state awareness of how the speed of submission impacts results. Currently, approximately 95 percent of results from over three million annual inspections reach the FMCSA website via electronic upload within 21 days.
Drive safe and make sure that you have the proper big rig insurance.
The best way to avoid intervention from the SMS is to become familiar with each of its seven BASICs and make sure that you abide by them. It is also important to check your insurance coverage periodically and add or update new coverages as needed. You can get started with truck insurance quotes by filling out our online quote request form, calling us, or messaging us on LiveChat.