Improve Your Vehicle Maintenance today….

February 28, 2013
Improve Your Vehicle Maintenance Today with the Safety Management Cycle!

Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a set of documents that detail the Agency’s signature investigative tool: the Safety Management Cycle (SMC). With an SMC tailored to each Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC), these resources provide carriers and drivers with a tool to help them evaluate their safety practices and identify and address safety and compliance issues.

There are two SMC resources dedicated to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC: one that focuses on cargo securement and another focusing on inspection, repair, and maintenance. By examining the six Safety Management Processes that make up the SMC—from defining policies and procedures and clarifying roles and responsibilities to taking meaningful action—carriers and drivers can gain a better understanding of the potential gaps in current safety practices and identify ways to improve.

For example, who is responsible for informing a manager or mechanic if a safety-related problem is discovered or repairs are necessary before operating a vehicle? And, does the company have a system to ensure this communication happens and vehicles are repaired before being driven? Explore the Vehicle Maintenance SMC resources on the CSA Website’s SMC webpage to make sure you and your company have addressed these and many other important questions to ensure every vehicle is safe before it hits the road. Also make sure you review the safety regulations at



CSA Changes December 2012

In case you are not aware, the CSA has made some very important changes to the SMS site. An effort in making some improvements. Here is one of the documents to help you Identify those changes and make sure you are keeping up with changing regulations.

The first part of the document includes this information to give you an understanding of why the changes were made and what the basis of those changes were.

Safety Measurement System Changes The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) quantifies the on-road safety performance and compliance history of motor carriers, to prioritize enforcement resources, determine the safety and compliance problems that a motor carrier may exhibit, and track each motor carrier’s safety. FMCSA designed the SMS expecting that changes would be made as new data, and additional analysis became available. This release is the first in a series of expected improvements to the SMS that will take place periodically. 

FMCSA provided a preview period and opportunity to comment for enforcement personnel and motor carriers prior to the implementation of these SMS changes. In March 2012, the Agency announced in the Federal Register a proposed set of SMS modifications. The Agency also developed and released an SMS Preview, allowing a motor carrier to see the impact of the proposed modifications on the carrier’s SMS results in advance of the changes. The Agency collected and analyzed feedback from stakeholders through

July 2012, and subsequently announced a package of SMS enhancements in December 2012.

Link to this document

FMCSA/CSA and your Data Access

Did you know that the FMCSA now collects a vast array of information about commercial drivers and Motor Carriers? Without this data the CSA program would not exist. And some of this data is about you – roadside inspections, crashes, and if not familiar with this, you should be the BASIC score.

Motor Carriers and drivers are scored under the BASICS and if you own your own equipment and are the driver with your own operating authority of that vehicle your are not only scored under the motor carrier but also the driver.

BASICs or Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories and they include:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Fatigued Driving
  • Driver Fitness
  • Controlled Substance
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Cargo-related
  • Crash indicator

But did you also realize that when you receive a violation that not all violations will be placed or used in the scoring system.

for more information visit;


Motor Carriers:

    The Improved CSA Website

    July 22, 2011


    You Talked, We Listened … Visit the Improved CSA Website and See What’s Changed!

    Since the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Website launched in August of 2008, we have directly responded to more than 6,500 questions from motor carriers, drivers, and others in the commercial vehicle safety industry.  In response to our visitors’ feedback, we improved several areas on the CSA Website in order to support stakeholders’ efforts to increase safety on the nation’s roads .

    Have you Noticed Your SMS Score Changing?

    Have you noticed your safety score changing since the implementation of CSA? The way that the 7 Basics of CSA are measured from that of the old safety rating system.

    I have had several clients ask me why their score was higher or lower since we have changed to the new CSA system. It is important to understand how the basics are scored compared to the old system.

    The SMS will initially focus on the two types of entities most likely to impact the
    BASICs and Crash Indicator: motor carriers and CMV drivers.  Therefore, two
    measurement systems were designed for CSA:
    Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS)
    Driver Safety Measurement Systems (DSMS)

    Both CSMS and DSMS assess an individual entity‘s performance by BASIC and Crash Indicators calculated from information collected during on-road safety inspections and state-reported CMV crash records.  These data are recorded in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).  In addition, motor carrier Census data, also recorded in MCMIS, are used for the identification and normalization of safety event data.

    To further understand why your score is changing visit:

    Additional Resources:

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    Educate your drivers in CSA


    How do you feel now we…..

    So we are now into a few months of CSA and I would like to know what your feeling are concerning how this has effected you as a company or a driver.

    I myself have not seen a tremendous difference as far as operations with my clients, however they are more cautious and paying closer attention to detail when it comes to the drivers and vehicles.

    This is something that should have been done all along and not just since the FMCSA implemented CSA. Safety should always be on the mind of both a driver and a company. Unfortunately some companies look at the dollar sign rather than the potential risk of its driver or others.

    What I mean by this, is a load needs to be in a particular place and the driver tells the dispatch he needs some rest, he has been held up on the receivers dock all morning and the situation goes astray from there. Bad vibes on both side.

    First of all the driver doesn’t make money when they get held up at shippers and receivers and neither does the company. Due to regulations there is only so much one can do. How much money is worth being gone from your family for weeks at a time and making 30 cents a mile.

    Yes if everything worked like clock work, and you could drive strictly those full driving hours at an average of 650 miles a day (depending one where you drive, based on speed limit) at .30 cents you could make more than $1000.00 week before taxes etc. But most of us in the trucking industry know that it is not possible most of the time.

    Give me your thoughts, would love to hear feed back in these particular areas.

    Meet your Safety Requirements under CSA!

    The FMCSA new safety measurement system has been designed to help identify those motor carriers with poor safety measures and allow the agency to intervene to help in the fight against non-compliance. Having a plan in place for your DOT compliance should always be of the utmost priority, no matter what size of trucking you have. Many companies are apprehensive about the new safety rating system, and are concerned that the new CSA will make DOT compliance more costly to maintain and difficult to maintain.

    Safety measures have been in place for sometime under the FMCSA guidelines, and the point of the CSA is to have some carriers – especially those with poor safety management,  to get those carriers to meet the safety requirements. Those carriers who do have a safety management system in place, have a reason to worry. As time goes on it will become increasingly difficult to stay off the FMCSA’s radar. Under the new CSA’s safety measurement system, motor carriers ratings will be updated still every 30 days and the interventions will be more frequent and wide spread. The best possible way to avoid enforcement action is to maintain each area of compliance in your trucking operation and know how to do it effectively. Know the 7 BASICS of CSA and how each one of these effect your safety rating and what you can do with your drivers and your company to maintain the rating and avoid the high cost of non-compliance that effects your companies bottom line. It may not be necessary to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a safety consultant, but you can get the assistance you need! visit me at and I can help you in areas of your DOT Safety and Compliance.

    FMCSA Sends First Wave of CSA Warning Letters!

    FMCSA sends first wave of CSA warning letters
    Friday, March 11, 2011 – Alabama Trucker, Ford Boswell

    As of March 1, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has begun issuing its first wave of Compliance, Safety, Accountability program warning letters to motor carriers with deficient scores in one or more of the program’s Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs.

    According to FMCSA officials, more than 6,000 letters have already gone out across the country and more than 200 have been mailed to carriers based in Alabama.

    American Trucking Associations safety officials recently told Transport Topics that the FMCSA, over the next several months, will send more than 50,000 warning letters that alert carriers that their performance is substandard in at least one BASIC and that immediate action is needed to fall back into the agency’s grace.

    This isn’t news to anyone in the industry, of course, but it can be stressful to find one of these letters in the mail. It should be remembered, however, that getting one of these letters isn’t a question of a carrier’s professionalism or commitment to safe operations. Rather, fleet managers should take heed and work immediately in the areas of their operation deemed deficient. Warning letters can be followed by off-site and/or on-site investigations if compliance doesn’t improve, and also be mindful that carriers who receive letters are subject to increased roadside inspections.

    If you do get a letter, however, don’t panic. It will be clear and to the point about which BASIC(s) you need to improve. It will also outline consequences of continued safety problems. A warning letter provides instructions for accessing motor carrier safety data in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) as well as a point-of-contact for additional information.

    In the meantime, the FMCSA has released a tip sheetto answers questions about a warning letter such as what it is; why you got one; and how you can respond. The tip sheet also explains how to review your specific violations and the ability to verify these, so you can help prevent them in the future.

    Once you receive a letter, FMCSA recommends that you 1) Check your data through its SMS (FMCSA released the SMS to the public last December. Motor carriers can log in to the SMS with their U.S. DOT number and PIN to access safety data or log in to the FMCSA Portal); 2) Understand you safety assessment. The SMS calculates a measure for each BASIC. The measure is then used to assign a ranking or percentile that allows the safety behavior of a motor carrier to be compared with the safety behavior of motor carriers with similar operations and numbers of safety events; and 3) Take action immediately to correct your score. If you discover inaccuracies during the review process, submit a correction request through DataQs.

    According to reports, the federal government has plans to sharply increase funding and staffing for the CSA program. Transport Topics recently reported that the Government Accountability Office requested $78 million for the program for fiscal 2012 – an increase of more than $68 million over CSA’s 2010 budget. This will help the agency monitor a broader swath of fleets. Under the old SafeStat system, FMCSA only managed to take action against 2 percent of carriers.

    Your Alabama Trucking Association is also here to help you through the process. ATA’s staff has assisted several members reverse their rating in the old SafeStat system, and we can do the same with your CSA rating. Call us at 334-834-3983.

    Ford Boswell is editor of Alabama Trucker. He also oversees communications, marketing and public affairs for the Alabama Trucking Association. Email him at

    Roadside Inspections and its Affects!

    In the process of creating powerpoint presentation for a client and found some very useful information on just how roadside inspections can influence your safety score.


    How CSA SMS measurement can affect a company is allowing access via the internet to encourage motor carrier safety, assess a weakness in various safety areas.

    SMS will empower carriers and other firms (e.g. shippers, insurers etc.) involved with the motor carrier in the industry to make a safety-based business decision based on and SMS safety score.

    Your safety rating  can also be a determining factor for an commercial insurance for a carrier and/or a shipper in using a motor carrier, therefor limiting the motor carrier due to an insufficient safety score. As well the driver scored under the PSP (Pre-employment Screening Program)

    Not realizing how important a roadside inspection is or crash data can have negative effects in your trucking business as well as your drivers. By utilizing tools and educating your employees in completing accurate pretrip inspections can also assist in a clean roadside inspection.

    For more information on CSA and the effects of roadside inspections and crash data visit: