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Proposal for Future Enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Proposal for Future Enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS)

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
June 29, 2015

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 124 (Monday, June 29, 2015)]
[Pages 37037-37039]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-15907]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No FMCSA-2015-0149]

Proposal for Future Enhancements to the Safety Measurement System 

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice; request for public comment.


SUMMARY: FMCSA provides notice and seeks comments on proposed 
enhancements to the Agency's Safety Measurement System (SMS) 
methodology. Consistent with its prior announcements, the Agency is 
proposing changes to the SMS that are the direct result of feedback 
from stakeholders and the Agency's ongoing continuous improvement 
efforts. The Agency is considering several changes in this notice and 
is asking for comment on these issues, and other possible areas for 
consideration. This set of enhancements would include changing some of 
the SMS Intervention Thresholds to better reflect the Behavior Analysis 
and Safety Improvement Categories' (BASICs) correlation to crash risk, 
other changes to the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC, 
reclassifying violations for operating while out-of-service (OOS) to 
the Unsafe Driving BASIC, and adjustments to the Utilization Factor 
(UF). FMCSA will provide a preview of the proposed enhancements 
allowing motor carriers to see their own data, enforcement to see the 
data, and an opportunity for all to comment prior to implementation.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before July 29, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2015-0149 using any of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room 
W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 
5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
    Each submission must include the Agency name and the docket number 
for this notice. Note that DOT posts all comments received without 
change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
included in a comment. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit Room W12-140 
on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The on-line FDMS is available 24 hours each 
day, 365 days each year. If you want acknowledgment that we received 
your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or 
postcard or print the acknowledgement page that appears after 
submitting comments on-line.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this 
notice, contact Mr. David Yessen, Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration, Compliance Division, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, Telephone 609-275-2606, E-Mail: 
david.yessen@dot.gov. If you have questions on viewing or submitting 
material to the docket, contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-


I. Background


    FMCSA first announced the implementation of the SMS in the Federal 
Register on April 9, 2010 (75 FR 18256) (Docket No. FMCSA-2004-18898). 
Since December 2010, FMCSA and its State partners have used SMS to 
identify and prioritize motor carriers for interventions, including 
automated warning letters and investigations. Additionally, SMS serves 
as a principal factor in roadside inspection selection software 
designed to recommend motor carriers for inspections. The SMS also 
provides the motor carrier industry, consumers, and other safety 
stakeholders with comprehensive safety performance data for many 
carriers. This information is updated monthly. SMS is available at the 
public Web site at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS. FMCSA announced 
improvements to the SMS in March 2012 (77 FR 18298) (Docket No. FMCSA-
2012-0074), August 2012 (77 FR 52110) (Docket No. FMCSA-2004-18898), 
and July 2014 (79 FR 43117) (Docket No. FMCSA-2013-0392). As stated in 
the March 2012 notice, FMCSA plans to apply a systematic approach to 
making improvements to SMS, prioritizing, and releasing packages of 
improvements as needed.
    FMCSA convened a Continuous Improvement Working Group (CIWG) 
comprised of Federal and State Enforcement personnel. This group used 
their diverse experiences to identify areas of needed improvement with 
SMS and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability interventions process. 
The CIWG recommendations are under review, and they informed the 
potential enhancements outlined below.

List of Proposed Enhancements

    FMCSA is proposing the following enhancements:

[[Page 37038]]

    1. Changing some of the SMS Intervention Thresholds to better 
reflect the BASICs' correlation to crash risk.
    2. Two changes to the HM Compliance BASIC:
     Segmenting the HM Compliance BASIC by cargo tank (CT) and 
non-CT carriers; and
     Releasing motor carrier percentile rankngs under the HM 
Compliance BASIC to the public.
    3. Reclassifying violations for operating while OOS as under the 
Unsafe Driving BASIC, rather than the BASIC of the underlying OOS 
    4. Increasing the maximum Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) used in the 
UF to more accurately reflect operations of high-utilization carriers.

Proposed Changes to SMS Intervention Thresholds

    The Agency published its most recent SMS Effectiveness Test at 
http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/CSMS_Effectiveness_Test_Final_Report.pdf. After considering the results 
of this test and other independent analyses, FMCSA is proposing to make 
changes to more closely align intervention thresholds with each BASIC's 
correlation to crash risk. FMCSA determined that lowering the Vehicle 
Maintenance BASIC intervention threshold to better reflect the 
seriousness of the crash risk associated with vehicle maintenance 
issues and raising the intervention thresholds for the Controlled 
Substances/Alcohol, HM Compliance, and Driver Fitness BASICs would more 
effectively prioritize motor carriers.
    As part of the SMS Effectiveness Test analysis, FMCSA analyzed the 
correlation of each BASIC with crash risk and introduced three levels 
of crash risk correlation:

 High: Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, Hours-of-Service (HOS) 
 Medium: Vehicle Maintenance
 Low: Controlled Substances/Alcohol, HM Compliance, and Driver 

The following chart illustrates the crash rates by BASIC, as 
demonstrated in the SMS Effectiveness Test.

                                                     % Increase in crash
                                Crash rate (per 100    rate compared to
     BASIC over threshold               PUs)           national average
Unsafe Driving................                 6.62                   93
Crash Indicator...............                 6.34                   85
HOS Compliance................                 6.26                   83
Vehicle Maintenance...........                 5.65                   65
Controlled Substances/Alcohol.                 4.61                   34
HM Compliance.................                 4.49                   31
Driver Fitness................                 3.11                   -9

    After a thorough analysis of this information and other available 
studies, the Agency analyzed carriers over a variety of intervention 
thresholds, and compared those crash rates to the national average. 
Based on that analysis, the Agency is proposing to adjust the 
intervention thresholds as shown in the table below, to reflect the 
differences in the crash correlations of each BASIC:

                                              Current        Proposed
                 BASICS                    intervention    intervention
                                          thresholds (%)  thresholds (%)
Unsafe Driving Crash Indicator HOS                    65              65
Vehicle Maintenance.....................              80              75
Controlled Substances/Alcohol HM                      80              90
 Compliance Driver Fitness..............

    The Agency notes that lowering the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC 
intervention threshold will identify a new set of motor carriers to 
receive warning letters so that they may address non-compliance issues 
before crashes occur. The changes would maintain the current 
intervention thresholds of 65% for the BASICs with the strongest 
relationship to crash risk. While fewer carriers will be identified for 
interventions in those BASICs where FMCSA proposes to raise the 
threshold to 90%, a similar number of carriers will be identified 
across all BASICs as under the current intervention thresholds. In 
addition, under the proposed changes the carriers prioritized for 
interventions will have a higher crash rate than the carriers currently 
prioritized for interventions. We examined the interstate carriers that 
are identified as at or above intervention threshold in any of the six 
BASICs (HM is excluded as it is handled in a different analysis). The 
effectiveness testing, which uses historical data, showed under the 
current thresholds that 39,454 carriers at or above intervention 
thresolds had a crash rate of 5.12 crashes per 100 Pus and under the 
proposed thresholds 41,012 carriers at or above intervention threshold 
had a crash rate of 5.49 crashes per 100 PUs. This is a 7% increase in 
crash rate. A recent snapshot of SMS data (Dec 2014) shows that 2,431 
carriers are newly identified while 453 are no longer identified with 
any of the six BASICs at or above the intervention threshold.

Proposed HM Compliance BASIC Changes

    Industry and enforcement stakeholders raised concerns to FMCSA that 
large non-CT HM carriers have difficulty improving in the HM Compliance 
BASIC because they are being unfairly compared to CT HM carriers. Non-
CT HM and CT HM carriers have different operations and as a result they 
often receive different violations. After analyzing the issue 
carefully, FMCSA determined that segmenting the HM Compliance BASIC by 
CT and non-CT carriers will address this bias and improve the SMS's 
ability to identify HM carriers with serious safety problems.
    FMCSA studied the feasibility of segmenting the HM Compliance BASIC 
by business type and found that for

[[Page 37039]]

most motor carriers that operate CTs, the CTs make up a majority of the 
carrier's inspections. A carrier was categorized as a CT carrier if 
more than 50% of its inspections indicated the vehicles were CTs, and 
for most that percentage was actually much higher. Analysis shows that 
there are a sufficient number of carriers for both segments in all 
safety event groups (SEGs) for effective assessment. FMCSA reviewed 
BASIC percentile changes with segmentation and found that large CT 
carriers would see an increase in percentiles, while large non-CT 
carriers would see a decrease. Small carriers, both CT and non-CT, will 
not see a change.

                                          HM Cargo Segmentation Impact
         SEG HM inspections           Current BASIC %        New BASIC non-CT %             New BASIC CT %
5-10...............................                 80  Same.......................  Same.
11-15..............................                 80  Same.......................  Same.
16-40..............................                 80  Same.......................  Same.
41-100.............................                 80  71% (-9%)..................  85% (+5%).
100+...............................                 80  62% (-18%).................  90% (+10%).

    With these changes, FMCSA is confident that the data in the HM 
Compliance BASIC appropriately reflects the distinct operations of 
these carriers. As a result, FMCSA proposes to make the HM Compliance 
BASIC information available to the public.

Violating Out-of-Service Orders

    Currently, when a carrier is cited for violating an OOS Order, 
these violations are associated with the same BASIC as the initial OOS 
violation. However, the behavior of deciding to violate an OOS Order is 
more closely related to a motor carrier's or driver's safety judgment, 
regardless of the underlying OOS condition.
    FMCSA reviewed these violations and analyzed the potential impact 
of reclassifying violations of an OOS Order to the Unsafe Driving 
BASIC. The Agency found that the crash rate of carriers at or above the 
intervention threshold in the Unsafe Driving BASIC will remain the same 
under this proposed change. Moreover, consolidating these OOS 
violations in the Unsafe Driving BASIC will help enforcement and motor 
carriers better identify and correct driver-related safety issues. 
Therefore, FMCSA proposes to move all violations of operating while OOS 
to the Unsafe Driving BASIC.

Changing the Maximum Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT)

    The Utilization Factor (UF) is an analytical element determined by 
dividing a motor carrier's vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by the number 
of power units (PU) in the carrier's fleet. The UF provides a more 
accurate picture of a carrier's safety and compliance. The UF is used 
in the Unsafe Driving BASIC and Crash Indicator BASIC when a carrier 
has a higher than normal utilization of its vehicles (VMT per PU). The 
UF is currently limited to 200,000 miles. Industry stakeholders noted 
that the current UF is not accurate for some companies with extremely 
high utilization. Data reviewed by FMCSA indicates that 200,000 miles 
may not be the appropriate cap. Therefore, FMCSA is examining allowing 
additional credit to high-utilization carriers to provide a more 
accurate picture of the carriers' crash exposure and unsafe driving 
    FMCSA believes that extending the UF to carriers with VMT per PU up 
to 250,000 miles, from the current level of 200,000, will allow for a 
better measure of exposure for carriers with very high utilization. 
During the preview, carriers will be able to see the individual impacts 
of this change.
    FMCSA expects to begin a preview of the proposed enhancements later 
in 2015. Information on the availability of the preview will be made 
available on the SMS Web site, and the Agency will publish a subsequent 
Federal Register notice. Prior to implementation, motor carriers will 
be able to log in with their Portal account or PINs to view their own 
data and any proposed re-designed formats. The general public will be 
able to access simulated carrier data in order to view the proposed 
enhancements. During the preview period, FMCSA will hold several public 
webinars to provide stakeholders with detailed information about the 
SMS methodology enhancements.

II. Request for Comments

    In advance of the SMS preview, FMCSA requests comments on the above 
enhancements to the SMS. Commenters are requested to provide supporting 
data wherever appropriate.

    Issued on: June 22, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-15907 Filed 6-26-15; 8:45 am]

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