On Wednesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will release a notice proposing changes to its Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSA) based on recommendations from a 2017 National Academy of Sciences study, which was required by Congress nearly a decade ago.

In its report, the Academy agreed that FMCSA’s approach to measuring carrier safety, which is based on accident prevention rather than prediction, is sound, but Wednesday’s notice clarifies that the Academy recommended a variety of improvements to the overall CSA SMS approach. The FMCSA’s notice focuses on one of six National Academy of Sciences recommendations to the FMCSA regarding improvements to the SMS, which is to develop an item response theory (IRT) model to more accurately target high-risk carriers for intervention.

However, the FMCSA is not adopting such a model, as the agency states in the notice that changes will be made to various aspects of the current SMS that FMCSA Director Robin Hutcheson believes will improve “the fairness, accuracy, and clarity of our prioritization system,” she said.

Among these changes, the FMCSA proposes to reorganize the current Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), which will be renamed “Safety Categories,” to better identify specific issues. To accomplish this, the FMCSA proposes to group the 959 violations currently used in the SMS, as well as 14 additional violations not currently used in the SMS, into 116 new violation groups.

In addition, the proposed changes include a drastic simplification of the gravity weights of violations, currently rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most negative for safety); changes aimed at eliminating percentile ranking jumps that occur when carriers move into a new safety event group, a well-known problem for small carriers; and adjusting the intervention threshold for safety categories, the percentile ranking at which a carrier is prioritized for agency/state investigation or other action.

Furthermore, a new website, the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) Prioritization Preview, which is now live, is the first phase of planned updates to the FMCSA’s SMS. Carriers can visit the website to preview how their data would appear under the proposed changes. Companies are encouraged to preview these results and submit comments on the proposed changes.

The FMCSA will accept comments on the proposed modifications starting from Wednesday, February 15th.


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