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FMCSA to change CSA scoring; Cargo BASIC goes away

A preview of CSA improvements will be available to motor carriers and law enforcement on March 27. The system changes are scheduled to be available to the public in July 2012.

The Trucker Staff

3/26/2012

WASHINGTON Starting Tuesday, carriers will have access to “an advanced peak under the hood” of the latest — and substantial — changes in the way they’re scored under the federal trucking regulator’s safety system.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published planned improvements to the Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS) which was implemented in December 2010 as part of the Agency’s broader Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative.

A preview of these improvements will be available to motor carriers and law enforcement on March 27. The system changes are scheduled to be available to the public in July. There will be additional opportunity for public comment on the changes after the preview period ends.

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“We know the SMS isn’t perfect, and we designed it so it can be improved over time,” FMCSA’s Bryan Price, a member of the CSA team, said at the Mid-America Trucking Show last week. “What we want to do is give carriers an opportunity for several months to see how the changes impact your particular company and give us comments if something doesn’t make sense.”

The SMS improvements are based on ongoing analysis and feedback from enforcement personnel, the motor carrier industry, and safety advocates, the agency said in the official notice.

This package of enhancements includes:

1. Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by moving cargo/load securement violations from the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC;

2. Simultaneously renaming the Cargo-Related BASIC the Hazardous Materials (HM) BASIC, which will better identify HM-related safety problems and change how HM carriers are classified to allow for increased intervention scrutiny;

3. Better aligning SMS with Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP) regulations;

4. Aligning violations that are included in SMS with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspection levels by eliminating the vehicle violations derived from driver-only inspections and driver violations from vehicle-only inspections;

5. Improving the identification of passenger carriers; and

6. Modifying the SMS website display to:

a. Change current terminology, including the terms “Insufficient Data” and “Inconclusive,” to fact-based definitions that clarify the carrier’s status in each BASIC;

b. Distinguish between crashes with injuries and crashes with fatalities.

To view their company’s data, carriers will have to enter their Personal Identification Number (PIN). Motor carriers that do not have a PIN, or those that have forgotten their PIN, can go here for assistance.

Following the preview period, FMCSA may further refine the new methodology before implementation and release of the revised SMS results to the public, the agency said.

The Federal Register notice is here.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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