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.



What are potential FMCSA follow-on procedures for trucking businesses?

FMCSA follow-on

Follow-on actions are one of three possible responses to violations of FMCSA rules and regulations. Of the three responses, a Follow-On is considered to be the most severe and significant. All interventions by the FMCSA were designed to help educate, inform, and support businesses that have run afoul of regulations, but the Follow-On options are the most severe and most likely to trigger penalties.

Read moreWhat are potential FMCSA follow-on procedures for trucking businesses?

How time-weighting for trucking violations works

How does time-weighting work for violations?

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) is a program operated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify unsafe drivers and prioritize them for intervention. Drivers receive a percentile rank based on how well they perform against other drivers with a similar number of violations as well as the severity of the violations. It uses several factors when determining this percentage, including out of service orders, the results of roadside inspections, crashes reported at the state level, and the past 24 months of data for every driver. We’ll focus on how time-weighting works within the SMS.

Read moreHow time-weighting for trucking violations works

What is a targeted roadside inspection?

What is a targeted roadside inspection?

A targeted roadside inspection takes place when the Safety Management System (SMS) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) triggers results that indicate a driver has recently received a violation. Targeted roadside inspections occur at temporary and permanent locations for these events. The purpose of a roadside inspection for a driver with recent SMS results is to ensure that he or she has taken corrective action on the first violation and has not committed violations that would result in a second citation from the FMCSA.

Read moreWhat is a targeted roadside inspection?

What to know about driver vehicle inspection reports

Driver vehicle inspection is a very important part of any trip.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) bears responsibility for ensuring that commercial trucks and buses remain safe on America’s roadways. There are a lot of regulations and requirements about inspecting vehicles, and some of those regulations have to do with vehicle inspection reports.

Commercial drivers have a responsibility to inspect all major parts of their vehicle to ensure they are in safe working order. For example, this includes the brakes, horn, lighting, steering wheel, emergency equipment, axles, and tires at a minimum. We’ll go over what you should know about driver vehicle inspection reports.

Read moreWhat to know about driver vehicle inspection reports

What is the trucking PRISM system?

Trucking PRISM system

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented the Performance and Registration Information System Management (PRISM) to reduce the number of crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by or involving commercial drivers. The primary goal of PRISM is to empower state law enforcement agencies to identify motor carriers with significant safety violations on their driving record. Upon doing so, local law enforcement officials can encourage commercial drivers to take accountability for their actions through sanctions and registration.

Read moreWhat is the trucking PRISM system?

Brake Safety Inspection Week Blitz is September 15 to 21

Brake Safety Inspection Week

Every year since 1998, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has sponsored Brake Safety Inspection week in September. This year’s event, which takes place between Sunday, September 15 and Saturday, September 21, will feature random roadside inspections on commercial vehicles located throughout North America. The CVSA works in close association with law enforcement officials to conduct approximately 30,000 surprise inspections each year during Brake Safety Inspection Week.

Read moreBrake Safety Inspection Week Blitz is September 15 to 21

What does the FMCSA do?

What does the FMCSA do?

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on January 1, 2000. This was in response to passage of the 1999 Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act. Prior to the 1999 legislation, the FMCSA was one division of the Federal Highway Administration. The primary purpose of the FMCSA is to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by commercial drivers. It employs approximately 1,000 people and maintains its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Read moreWhat does the FMCSA do?

What is a Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP) and are motor carriers required to develop one?

Find out what a Cooperative Safety Plan is.

A cooperative safety plan (CSP) is a voluntary structured plan that motor carriers file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose of the plan is for the motor carrier to address any underlying issues that have or could potentially lead to safety issues and improve its performance.

Read moreWhat is a Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP) and are motor carriers required to develop one?