February 26, 2015



Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided more insight into what motor carriers can expect from the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule. The SFD is the third part of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that began almost a decade ago.

Once the Safety Fitness Determination rule is published, the FMCSA will have the legal authority to assign monthly safety ratings. Rather than conducting manual compliance reviews randomly, the carriers will be selected based on an algorithm. The main difference in this testing is that the SFD will score carriers on their individual performance rather than the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which compares carriers to their peers.

The SFD will be based off of the SMS BASICs. This includes:

  1. Unsafe Driving – Operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) by drivers in a dangerous or careless manner. I.e. speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change.
  2. Hours of Service Compliance – Operation of CMVs by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in non-compliance with the HOS regulations.
  3. Driver Fitness – Operation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience or medical qualifications.
  4. Controlled Substances/Alcohol – Operation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  5. Vehicle Maintenance – Failure to properly maintain a CMV and/or properly prevent shifting loads. I.e. brakes, lights and other mechanical defects, failure to make required repairs, and improper load securement.
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance – Unsafe handling of HM on a CMV. I.e. release of HM package, no shipping papers, and no placards/markings when required.
  7. Crash Indicator – Histories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity. It is based on information from State-reported crashes.

Although scores for the Crash Indicator BASIC are not publically displayed on the CSA website, they will be listed privately for motor carriers to review. About 120,000 crashes that involve commercial motor vehicles are reported into the SMS every year; however, there are no determinations as to what the carrier’s role in a crash is. Crashes that involve an investigation will be the only type of crash that will affect the safety rating of carriers.

The FMCSA will also conduct a study to determine if Police Accident Reports can be used for assigning accountability for crashes. The study is still ongoing because they do not get PARs on all crashes and the data quality is low. As part of this study, the FMCSA compared PARs to Fatal Accident Reports to validate the data, which showed a fair amount of mismatched data.

The SFD rule will establish procedures for how the FMCSA will use data in the SMS to identify patterns of violations. They urge motor carriers to use the Data Q system to ask for corrections for cases where the data is incorrect. This will help the DOT and FMCSA have quality data that will make the Safety Fitness Determination a successful program.

The Safety Fitness Determination rule proposal is projected to be published in July, though the FMCSA has continued to push the projected date back. The rule has been in the works since 2007.

For more information about your Compliance, Safety, Accountability scorespreventative maintenance plans or for updates about the new Safety Fitness Determination, visit our blog frequently for updates.

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