Major CSA Changes Take Effect 12/3/12



Today, in a conference call, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro announced that several previously published changes to the CSA program were uploaded “over the weekend and are now in place.” Today, these changes were applied to the monthly update of carriers’ Safety Measurement System (SMS) scores. FMCSA usually updates carriers’ scores on or about the 21st of each month, but chose to update the December scores early using the newly uploaded SMS changes.

Below is a summary of the SMS changes which took effect today:

  • Moving load securement violations into the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC.
  • Renaming the Cargo-Related BASIC the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC. HM BASIC scores will not be made publicly available until December 2013. In the interim, they will only be available to motor carriers and law enforcement officials. The intervention threshold for the HM BASIC with be set at the 80th percentile.
  • Reflecting in carriers’ public on-line records the percentage of their inspections that involve placarded quantities, to provide some context to their scores (e.g., if the carrier very infrequently transports placarded HM).
  • Renaming the Fatigued Driving BASIC the Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC
  • Attributing to motor carriers those violations found on equipment offered/provided by an intermodal equipment provider that should reasonably have been identified by the driver during his/her pre-trip inspection. A list of these violations is available at this link.
  • Removing from consideration in the Unsafe Driving BASIC all speeding violations between 1 and 5 mph over the posted limit. This change will be made to all such violations retroactively (for the prior 24 months) and moving forward.
  • Reducing to “1” the severity weight for those speeding violations where a mph is not indicated. This change will be made retroactively to all such violations that occurred on or after January 1, 2011 and moving forward.
  • Making the severity weights for comparable EOBR and logbook violations the same. Previously some hours of service violations (e.g. form and manner; no logbook) carried more weight for paper logs than for EOBRs. Now, all form and manner violations (both paper and EOBR) will bear a weight of “1” and failing to have a log will carry a weight of “5.”
  • Establishing new criteria for defining which carriers will be subject to the lower HM intervention thresholds in each BASIC. To be subject to the lower thresholds, carriers must either possess a HM safety permit or have at least two inspections in the prior 24 months involving a vehicle transporting a placarded quantity of HM, and with one of these inspections in the prior 12 months. Also, unless the carrier holds an HM safety permit, at least 5% of its inspections must involve a vehicle transporting a placarded quantity of HM.

Note: Even non-hazmat carriers can be assigned scores in the HM BASIC if they are cited for violations in that BASIC.

  • Ensuring all recorded violations accurately correspond to the relevant inspection type. In other words, only driver violations (not vehicle violations) stemming from “driver-only” inspections will be counted and vice-versa.
  • Changing the terms used to describe carriers that do not have enough inspections to be measured in a BASIC from “insufficient data” to “< than 5 inspections.” Also, the performance of those without adequate violations to be scored will no longer be labeled “inconclusive,” but instead “no violations within 1 year.”
  • Assigning a percentile score (e.g., 0%) to those carriers with a sufficient number of inspections, but otherwise lacking sufficient violations to be scored (does not have at least one violation).
  • Revising the “Summary of Activities” section of a motor carrier’s information on the SMS website to separately list fatality and injury crashes.


FMCSA is expected to propose, evaluate and implement additional changes on an on-going basis. To that end, FMCSA will likely propose another set of program improvements early next year. These proposed changes will likely include:

  • Adjustments to the severity weights assigned to violations.
  • Fine-tuning the utilization factor used to incorporate vehicle mileage into the exposure measure in the Crash Indicator and Unsafe Driving BASIC
  • Modifications to the safety event (peer) groups FMCSA uses to compare carriers of similar size and exposure.

American Trucking Associations will continue to advocate for changes that will result in a system that better identifies unsafe carriers and prioritizes them for intervention.