New Study Releases SMS Recommendations

In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) replaced the previous SafeStat System with a new Safety Measurement System (SMS) in an effort to quantify the performance of drivers and carriers as well as identify those who are at high risk of an accident.  Since then, groups have been lashing out over the misrepresentation of publicized motor carrier rankings, which many argue have led brokers and carriers to lose significant business with some of their major accounts.  So in December 2015, Congress passed a proposal, part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, making CSA scores (which contain six categories: unsafe driving, hours of service compliance, vehicle maintenance, controlled substances/alcohol use, hazardous materials compliance, and driver fitness measured via nearly 3.5 million roadside inspections a year) private until the system is corrected.

Thus, in accordance with the FAST Act, researchers at the National Academies of Science (NAS) issued a report last week containing recommendations for fixing the SMS, making it more accurate before it goes public once more.  These suggestions include:

*Acknowledging that the SMS is “conceptually sound,” the report suggested that the FMCSA include “vehicle miles traveled by state and month” in order to “account for varied environments where carriers travel.” 1

*Improvement on crash information as police reports can contain further information such as what caused the crash, etc. that are currently not represented in the data. 1

*The FMCSA was also called upon to use an item response theory model to “develop a more statistically principled approach for the task” over the next two years, and if successful/proven effective, use it to replace SMS.1

*Using carrier characteristics to collect data such as compensation (which may affect driver safety), cargo class, and driver turnover. 1

As the ATA’s Sean Garney noted, “Until more study – and correction – of these issues is complete, ATA strongly believes FMCSA should continue to keep CSA scores out of the public domain.”

You can download and view the NAS’s free report here.