Proposed changes to improve SMS

Trucker fixes the cables on his truck

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced proposed changes to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology to help improve the fairness, accuracy, and clarity of its prioritization system. Below is a brief overview of the proposed changes. More details can be found on the FMCSA’s website.


The BASICs would be called “safety categories.” Vehicle Maintenance (VM) would be divided into two safety categories: Vehicle Maintenance and VM: Driver Observed. Controlled Substances/Alcohol violations would no longer be in their own standalone category, but integrated into other safety categories.


Roadside violations would be reorganized into 116 violation groups of similar safety behaviors to prevent inconsistencies that occur when multiple violations are cited for a single or very similar underlying issue.


The new methodology would replace the “1-10” weighting scale for violations in SMS with a two-value scale: a severity weight of either 1 or 2.


The new methodology would adjust the intervention thresholds in the Driver Fitness and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance safety categories.


The proposed percentile changes would improve FMCSA’s ability to compare carriers with similar carriers. This change would better indicate how a carrier’s performance is trending from month to month.


A motor carrier with violations in a safety category that are all 12 months or older would not be assigned a percentile and would not be prioritized in that category based on roadside inspection data alone.


The new methodology would extend the Utilization Factor to carriers that drive up to 250,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per average power unit. This change would more accurately account for the on-road exposure of motor carriers with the most VMT per vehicle.


The prior SMS segmentation would remain. However, the HM Compliance and Driver Fitness safety categories would have additional segmentation pertaining to cargo tanks and straight and combination carriers.

Call to Action

  • Train operations staff on the proposed SMS changes and on the way they impact operations.
  • Ensure drivers and mechanics know the importance of proper vehicle inspections and repairs.
  • Conduct crash prevention training with all staff. 
  • Measure factors like severe violations, crashes, and other metrics; and take corrective action.

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent. 

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