What is the Hazardous Materials BASIC?

Hazardous materials is one of seven categories in the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) program operated by the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The purpose of BASICs is for FMCSA safety evaluators to be able to assess drivers in seven unique categories and then rank them against each other to form a percentile rating. These rankings help the administration uncover and prioritize assistance to drivers who require improvement in practicing safe driving habits, upholding the proper requirements for trucking operation, and properly maintaining commercial vehicles.

Understanding the Hazardous Materials BASIC

Drivers who transport materials deemed hazardous by the Department of Transportation (DOT) must take proper precautions, including appropriate labeling of the hazard to inform others to stay back and/or drive with caution near the commercial vehicle in question. This specific BASIC addresses Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) found in 49 CFR Part 397 and draws inspiration from 39 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations Parts 171 to 173 and 177 to 180.

Actions that may cause a motor carrier to score poorly on this BASIC include:

  • Not properly securing a load containing any hazardous materials
  • Failing to mark, label, or obtain the appropriate placard warning others of the potential danger
  • Failing cargo tank specifications
  • Transporting hazardous materials that leak due to the driver or motor carrier’s negligent actions
  • Improper loading and/or unloading practices
  • Poor attendance record

Documentation Drivers Must Carry Related to Hazardous Materials

Drivers must produce any documentation requested by a safety inspector, whether it’s a scheduled or random inspection. Inspectors request the following documents the most often:

  • Hazardous materials shipping papers
  • Hazardous materials incident reports
  • Hazardous water materials
  • Evidence of hazardous materials training
  • Certificates from cargo tank manufacturers

Failure to provide these or any other documents could result in a worse score on the inspection and a higher likelihood of FMCSA intervention.

How Drivers Can Improve in the Hazardous Materials BASIC

In order to transport these substances safely and smoothly, drivers must understand the above regulations while transporting hazardous materials. This requires motor carriers to invest time and resources into educating new drivers and providing ongoing education to ensure accurate knowledge and compliance.

If a motor carrier does notice an issue with a driver, it is important to proactively address the problem before it affects the operator’s safety percentile and the motor carrier’s reputation. Drivers who need additional education can find the resources they need on the FMCSA website.

Drivers Who Transport Hazardous Materials Need the Right Insurance

In addition to auto liability insurance, the FMCSA may also require drivers to obtain a special type of insurance policy to transport certain materials. Most commonly, hazmat insurance is required for transporting poisonous, flammable, or explosive materials. This type of trucking insurance can help your business with the costs of cleaning up in-transit accidents, contamination incidents, and more.

To start getting free, customized quotes on hazmat insurance for your commercial trucking business, give our experts a call, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with a trucking insurance specialist today.



When will the Safety Measurement System stop identifying a motor carrier for intervention?

Intervention from the FMCSA doesn't have to last forever.

The Safety Management System (SMS) program, which is managed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), helps to identify and correct unsafe driving behaviors. The organization’s goal is to intervene early enough to prevent accidents from taking place. SMS assigns points under another program known as Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC). Each driver receives a score based on the most recent 24 months of performance data.

Read moreWhen will the Safety Measurement System stop identifying a motor carrier for intervention?

What are Safety Event Groups and how are they used?

It's important to understand what safety event groups are.

Compliance and Safety Accountability (CSA) is a program operated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that uses Safety Event Groups to help rank motor carriers in terms of safety. The CSA first used this methodology in 2010 when it replaced Peer Groups. It also stopped assigning Average Power Units at that time to categorize fleets. The change caused some fleets to see a large fluctuation in their percentile ranking as compared to their peers. We’ll explain what Safety Event Groups are.

Read moreWhat are Safety Event Groups and how are they used?

What are Acute and Critical Violations?

There is a difference between acute and critical violations.

When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completes a safety audit, it is looking for evidence of violations that can put the public at risk. It classifies all violations as either acute or critical. When a trucking company or independent owner-operator receives an acute violation, it means that the violation was so grossly unsafe that the FMCSA will implement immediate corrective action. Refusing or failing to put a drug and alcohol testing program in place is a common example of an acute violation.

Read moreWhat are Acute and Critical Violations?

What is a BASIC in trucking and why do the BASICs matter?

Your BASIC percentiles can determine if you'll be subject to FMCSA intervention.

There are a lot of regulations that trucking businesses need to be aware of and follow. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is the agency charged with overseeing CMVs and regulating trucks. The FMCSA has the power to intervene with truck businesses in the form of written letters of warning or investigations. But how does the FMCSA decide who to investigate? There are a lot of businesses out there – why would they single out your business?

The FMCSA uses BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) percentiles to prioritize which truck businesses to investigate. What’s a BASIC percentile? Great question. We’ll explain what BASICs are, where they come from, and what could cause your business to get poor percentile scores on your BASICs.

Read moreWhat is a BASIC in trucking and why do the BASICs matter?