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The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) recently revised its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology. In this newly revised methodology, twelve (12) new roadside inspection violations are added to the company’s overall CSA score.
A subset of the Department of Transportation, the FMCSA uses these scores to score motor carriers (the truck companies) and their drivers based on seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories). If the FMSCA (with DOT authority) determines there are poor safety metrics based on the BASIC/CSA scores, the FMCSA can intervene in a variety of different ways, including, but not limited to,:
1) Warning letters - to put the carrier on notice that a BASIC category is above national average
2) Increased roadside enforcement - Carriers are flagged by the DOT for roadside enforcement
3) On-site investigation - FMCSA intervention at the carrier’s HQ
You can find the most recently updated SMS Methodology here:https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMSMethodology.pdf
In the most recent version (3.0.8, revised July 2017), the FMCSA added violations under the unsafe driving, vehicle maintenance, controlled substances/alcohol, and hazardous materials compliance categories. Some examples of the newly added violations include: weight carried exceeds the tire load limit (which is different than other weight restrictions as this is specific to the vehicle itself), operating a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle while all other occupants are not properly restrained (carrying a fairly high severity ranking of 7 out of 10), and driver having possession of alcohol while on duty, or operating, or in physical control of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).
Motor Carriers that are not up-to-date on their FMCSA regulations are going to risk noncompliance. While for some carriers it may seem like the FMCSA is always adding new regulations that make it challenging for the carrier to adapt and educate its fleet maintenance personnel, drivers, and staff, the purpose of these regulation and CSA changes are to create safer roadways - not just for the motoring public, but for the driver as well. It is essential that Motor Carriers and their drivers understand these regulations. It is just as essential for an attorney representing those injured by a Commercial Motor Vehicle to understand these constantly changing regulations. Without this knowledge, a lawyer cannot effectively advocate for his/her client, and advocate for change to make the roads safer.
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