How does the SMS use segmentation and why?

The Safety Measurement System was developed as part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration‘s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program (CSA).  The purpose of this system is to promote safe driving and vehicle operation and ultimately to make the roads safer. The SMS uses segmentation to analyze data and calculate key statistics. Segmentation is designed to make this system more fair and equitable for all carriers. Below is some information to help you understand how this process works and how it will apply to your company.

What is segmentation?

Segmentation is a procedure used to account for differences among carriers within the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs. Segmentation places each carrier in the system into one of two different groups based on the types of vehicles they operate: the straight segment and the combo segment.

The straight segment contains carriers who have more than 30 percent of their total Power Units categorized as straight trucks/other vehicles. The combo segment, on the other hand, contains carriers who have more than 70 percent of their total Power Units made up of combination trucks and motor coach buses.

What is the purpose of segmentation?

The purpose of segmentation is to ensure that companies who operate vehicles with fundamental differences are not compared to each other unfairly. Without the use of segmentation, some carriers may be unreasonably identified as having safety performance problems.

How is segmentation used?

Segmentation is a key component of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s campaign to ensure that all carriers and drivers abide by certain standards. In order to identify carriers that are not abiding by the standards, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration collects data about different carriers, calculates specific statistics, and then divides carriers into percentiles. When carriers exceed a specific percentile threshold within one of the BASIC categories, a safety performance problem is suspected. In such cases, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will send warning letters and/or begin an investigation of the issue in question.

If all carriers were grouped together before percentiles were calculated, some carriers would be at an unfair disadvantage, as they would be compared to carriers that operate much differently. To prevent this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses segmentation to group like carriers together.

How does this affect my company?

If you operate a motor carrier that is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, segmentation will affect your company. If you aren’t sure which segment your company falls into, contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to inquire directly. You can also review the different percentile thresholds that apply to each segment within each BASIC category by reviewing the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Methodology available on the Department of Transportation‘s website.

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Source:

https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/SMSMethodology.pdf

https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/HelpCenter/FAQs#

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