What and where are the Safety Measurement System severity tables?

Being a motor carrier is a lot of paying attention to regulations and inspections. You might be wondering what violation severity weight is and where one could find the severity tables for the SMS. Seems like that would be something helpful to know about. Well, it has to do with BASICs and such. Here is what you need to know.

What is violation severity?

Now, we should start with what violation severity is. We need to begin by explaining that all roadside inspection violations that are connected to a BASIC are given a severity weight. The severity weight shows the relationship between the violation and crash occurrence or crash consequences. A severity weight can help differentiate the level of crash risk that is associated with violations attached to each BASIC. As the term suggests, it shows how “severe” the situation is.

Now, it’s important to know that the severity weights are particular to each BASIC, so two weights that look identical but are in separate categories DO NOT represent the same crash risk. To elaborate on that, there is a scale of severity weights from 1-10, with one being the lowest crash risk and 10 being the highest. And that’s in relation to the other violations in the BASIC. That being said, a five represents halfway between a crash risk of one and ten within a BASIC. So, a five in one category does not equal a five in another category. That’s what you have to keep in mind that you can’t compare these weights across the categories.

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(With certain BASICs, extra severity weight is given to violations that led to out of service orders. The additional weight is based on an analysis of the crash risk and input from enforcement subject matter experts.)

Where can I find the severity weight tables?

You might be wondering where you can look at tables for the SMS severity tables. You can look at the SMS Methodology Document, where Appendix A has the severity weights on a 1-10 scale for each BASIC. Appendix A explains the severity weights and gives specific weights to each roadside inspection violation used in the SMS. Now, remember that these are specific to the BASIC category that they’re in. (For example, an 8 in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC isn’t the same as an 8 in the Driver Fitness BASIC. You can’t add, subtract, or meaningfully compare the severity weight of a violation with one from any other BASIC.) The SMS Methodology Document is great because it gives you a ton of information about the BASICs and how they interpret your scores and data.

There is also an Excel Spreadsheet that can be very helpful, so you can check that out as well.

Severity weights might seem confusing, but the important thing to remember is that these weights can’t really be compared across the BASICs. You can find more information about the BASICs, SMS, and severity weights on the SMS Methodology Document. That’s the place to go for information about the SMS!

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