The trucking world is filled with confusing things. The regulations are many and the letters – FMCSA, CSA, SMS, DOT – can cause real befuddlement. Three letters in particular, SMS, are extremely important. They stand for Safety Measurement System. We’ll explain what the trucking SMS is all about by answering a few common questions about it.
The FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has a lot on its plate. They run a lot of different programs related to safety and they have a lot of different programs to keep track of the data they collect. Since the FMCSA’s goal is to enhance safety on the nation’s roads, a lot of information needs to be stored and organized. It can be a lot to keep it straight. At any rate, here are a few FMCSA information systems you should know about.
Trucking is complicated. There are a lot of regulations you have to follow, and there’s a lot of safety-related data about your business that you need to keep track of. The FMCSA takes safety very seriously, so as a trucking business you need to be sure you’re playing by the rules. One resource that can help is the CSA website (Compliance, Safety, Accountability). What exactly can you find on the CSA website? We’ll explain eight things the CSA website can help you with.
The roads and highways are shared by a lot of different vehicles – passenger cars, motorcycles, large trucks, buses. And city streets can also feature pedestrians and cyclists. There are so many people using the roads to get where they need to go. According to the FMCSA, over 12 million commercial motor vehicles are registered to operate on the roads. Naturally, trucks and buses are an essential part of keeping the nation running as far as transporting goods and people. But it’s important to keep the roads safe for everyone, and that’s what the FMCSA’s Our Roads, Our Safety campaign is all about. We’ll explain how that works.
In addition to requiring roadside inspections of all commercial vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) operates the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program. This program oversees driver and motor carrier intervention and investigation. The primary purpose of CSA is to research the reasons for safety violations, recommend solutions to improve driver behavior and eliminate violations, and encourage specific corrective actions.
If a driver with a poor inspection report fails to comply with the recommendations for improvement, the CSA will step in and impose strong penalties for non-compliance. The CSA monitors and enforces three levels of intervention known as early contact, investigation, and follow-on. We’ll focus on the investigation efforts the FMCSA can take and explain the different types of investigation they might conduct.
There are times when you are operating a commercial vehicle, truck, or any other large vehicle in an area where there are pedestrians. At times like that, it’s necessary for you as the driver to add an even greater measure of safety consciousness to your driving. With that in mind, here are some tips for staying alert and safe when pedestrians are in your area.
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.
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.
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.
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.