FMCSA CSA Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS)

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 carriers’ safety.

FMCSA uses the SMS to identify carriers with potential safety problems for interventions as part of the Agency’s safety compliance and enforcement program called Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA). Carriers are prioritized for interventions based on their on-road performance and investigation results. On-road performance includes data collected from roadside inspections and crash reports; investigation results include violations discovered within the previous 12 months.

The following FMCSA CSA Carrier Safety Measurement System information was pulled from the full CSMS Methodology Report, Version 3.0. Download the full SMS Methodology Report here.

CSMS Methodology

The SMS assesses motor carrier on-road performance and compliance by organizing data into seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Crash Indicator
  • Hours-of-Service Compliance
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Controlled Substances/Alcohol
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance (HM)
  • Driver Fitness

SMS BASIC Measure

In each BASIC, the SMS calculates a quantifiable measure of a motor carrier’s performance. The SMS groups carriers by BASIC with other carriers that have a similar number of safety events (e.g., crashes, inspections, or violations). The SMS then ranks these carriers based on their BASIC measure, assigning them a percentile from 0‒100 (the higher the percentile, the worse the safety performance).

Acute and Critical Violations

The SMS also prioritizes carriers for interventions using a set of violations known as Acute and Critical Violations. This set of violations is defined in the current Safety Fitness Procedures (49 CFR 385 Appendix B). If a carrier has been found with one or more Acute and/or Critical Violations within the past 12 months during an investigation, the carrier will receive an “Alert” in the corresponding BASICs. The SMS uses both the BASIC percentiles and Acute and Critical Violations to highlight safety performance issues within each BASIC and prioritize carriers for interventions.

Various studies have shown that the SMS is effective in helping the Agency identify high crash-risk carriers for interventions.

Interpretation of the Severity Weights

The violation severity weights have been converted into a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 represents the lowest crash risk and 10 represents the highest crash risk relative to the other violations in the BASIC. Because the weights reflect the relative importance of each violation only within each particular BASIC, they cannot be compared meaningfully across the various BASICs. Therefore, a 5 in one BASIC is not equivalent to a 5 in another BASIC, but the 5 does represent the approximate midpoint between a crash risk of 1 and 10 within the same BASIC.

Violations in the tables that follow are used by SMS at the specified severity weight unless the citation result associated with the violation is adjudicated and documented as “dismissed/ not guilty.” Additionally, when the citation result for a violation is documented as “convicted of a different charge,” then the severity weight is set to 1 and it is not subject to an additional out-of-service (OOS) severity weight of 2.

In order for an adjudicated citation result to be documented for a violation (and subsequently impact SMS), drivers or carriers must submit certified documentation of the judicial proceeding results through a Request for Data Review (RDR) in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) DataQs system to initiate this process.

CSMS Methodology Algorithms

The following sections describe the algorithms used in the CSMS methodology and the computational logic used to calculate the measurement and percentile of each BASIC and the Crash Indicator for individual motor carriers. The BASICs that are evaluated in a very similar manner have been grouped together as shown below.

  • Unsafe Driving BASIC, Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC
  • Fatigued Driving BASIC, Driver Fitness BASIC
  • Vehicle Maintenance BASIC and Improper Loading/Cargo Securement BASIC
  • Crash Indicator BASIC

 

Unsafe Driving BASIC and Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC Assessment

This section describes the measurement of the Unsafe Driving BASIC and the Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC. The definition of each BASIC is as follows:

  • Unsafe Driving BASIC—Operation of CMVs in a dangerous or careless manner. Example violations: speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention. For a complete list of roadside inspection violations used in the SMS see Appendix A.
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC—Operation of CMVs by drivers cited in roadside inspections for impairment due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Example violations: use or possession of controlled substances or alcohol. For a complete list of roadside inspection violations used in the SMS see Appendix A.

The CSMS assesses both the Unsafe Driving BASIC and Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC by using relevant violations of FMCSRs recorded during roadside inspections and reported in MCMIS. Individual carriers’ BASIC measures also incorporate carrier size. These measures are used to generate percentile ranks that reflect each carrier’s driver safety posture relative to its peers.

Calculation of BASIC Measure for Unsafe Driving and Controlled Substances and Alcohol

The BASIC measures for the Unsafe Driving and Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASICs were calculated as the sum of severity and time-weighted applicable violations divided by carrier average power units, as follows:

Basic Measure= Total of time and severity weighted applicable violations

Average PUs Utilization Factor

Applicable Violation is defined as any violation recorded in any level roadside inspection that matches the FMCSR and HMR cites listed for Unsafe Driving (Table 1 in Appendix A) and Controlled Substances and Alcohol (Table 2 in Appendix A) during the past 24 months. In cases of multiple counts of the same violation, the CSMS only uses each violation cite once per inspection.

A Severity Weight from 1 (less severe) to 10 (most severe) is assigned to each applicable violation. See the Unsafe Driving Table (Table 1 in Appendix A) and the Controlled Substance and Alcohol Table (Table 2 in Appendix A) for the corresponding severity weights of each violation cite. The severity weighting of each violation cite accounts for the level of crash risk relative to the other violation cites used in the BASIC measurement. The sum of all violation severity weights from any one inspection is capped at a maximum of 30.

A Time Weight of 1, 2 or 3 is assigned to each applicable violation based on how long ago a violation on the inspection was recorded. Violations recorded in the past 6 months receive a time weight of 3. Violations recorded between 6 and 12 months ago receive a time weight of 2. All violations recorded earlier (older than 12 months but within the past 24 months) receive a time weight of 1. This time weighting places more emphasis on recent violations relative to older violations.

Time and Severity Weighted Violation is a violation’s severity weight multiplied by its time weight.

Average Power Units (PUs) is used to account for each carrier’s level of exposure when calculating the BASIC measure. The BASIC violations are normalized by the number of owned, term-leased, and trip-leased power units (trucks, tractors, hazardous-material tank trucks, motor coaches, and school buses) contained in the Census data. The primary sources of power unit information in the Census are Forms MCS-150 and MCS-151. Carriers are required to update their MCS-150 information biennially. The average PUs for each carrier is calculated using (i) the carrier’s current number of PUs, (ii) the number of PUs the carrier had in the middle of the first time period (i.e. 18 months ago), and (iii) the number of PUs the carrier had in the middle of the second time period (i.e. 6 months ago). The average PU calculation is shown below:

PU Average= PU Current + PU 6 Months + PU 18 Months

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Utilization Factor is a multiplier that adjusts the Average PU values based on the utilization in terms of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per Average PU where VMT data in the past 24 months are available. The primary sources of VMT information in the Census are (1) Form MCS-150, filled out by the carrier, and (2) Form MCS-151, filled out by law enforcement as part of an investigation. Carriers are required to update their MCS-150 information biennially. In cases where the VMT data has been obtained multiple times over the past 24 months for the same carrier, the most current positive VMT figure is used. The Utilization Factor is calculated by the following three steps:

Carrier Segment:

There are two segments that each motor carrier falls into:

  • Combo: combination trucks/motor coach buses constituting 70% or more of the total PU.
  • Straight: straight trucks/other vehicles constituting more than 30% of the total PU.

VMT per Average PU

The VMT per Average PU is derived by taking most recent positive VMT data and dividing it by the average PUs (defined above).

Utilization Factor:

Given the information in (i) and (ii) the Utilization Factor are determined from the following tables:

Combo Segment
VMT per Average PUUtilization Factor
< 80,0001
80,000 – 160,0001+0.6[(VMT per PU-80,000) / 80,000]
160,000 – 200,0001.6
> 200,0001
No Recent VMT Information1

Table 3-1. VMT per PU for Combo Segment

Straight Segment
VMT per Average PUUtilization Factor
< 20,0001
20,000 – 60,000VMT per PU / 20,000
60,000 – 200,0003
> 200,0001
No Recent VMT Information1

Table 3-2. VMT per Average PU for Straight Segment

Calculation of BASIC Percentile Rank

Based on the BASIC measures, the CSMS applies data sufficiency standards and safety event grouping to assign a percentile rank to carriers that can then potentially receive a CSA intervention or detrimental SFD. The calculation is as follows:

  1. Determine the carrier‘s segment:
  • Combo – combination trucks/motor coach buses constituting 70% or more of the total PU.
  • Straight – straight trucks/other vehicles constituting more than 30% of the total PU.
  1. Determine the total number of inspections with at least one BASIC violation and remove carriers with less than three such inspections. For the remaining carriers, place each carrier into one of five groups based on the carrier segment and the number of inspections with an Unsafe Driving violation:
Safety Event Group CategoryCombo Segment:

Number of Inspections with Unsafe Driving Violations

Straight Segment:

Number of Inspections with Unsafe Driving Violations

13-83-4
29-215-8
322-579-18
458-14919-49
5150+50+

Table 3-3. Safety Event Group Categories for Unsafe Driving BASIC

Calculation of BASIC Measure for Fatigued Driving and Driver Fitness

The equation used for calculating the BASIC measure for Fatigued Driving and Driver Fitness is as follows:

Basic Measure= Total of time and severity weighted applicable violations

Number of time-weighted relevant inspections Average

Where: Applicable Violation is defined as any violation recorded in any level roadside inspection that matches the FMCSR and HMR cites listed for Fatigued Driving and Driver Fitness during the past 24 months. In cases of multiple counts of the same violation, the CSMS only uses each violation cite once per inspection.

A Relevant Inspection is any Driver Inspection (Level 1, 2, 3 or 6) or any other inspection resulting in an applicable BASIC violation. A Severity Weight is assigned to each applicable violation, with a value dependent on two parts: (i) the level of crash risk relative to the other violation cites used in the BASIC measurement, and (ii) whether or not the violation resulted in an OOS (Out Of Service) condition. The level of crash risk is assigned to each applicable violation ranging from 1 (less severe) to 10 (most severe); see the Fatigued Driving Table and the Driver Fitness Table for the corresponding severity weights of each violation cite. An OOS weight of 2 is then added to the level of crash risk for OOS violations. In cases of multiple counts of the same violation, if any of the counts of the violation are OOS the OOS weight of 2 applies. The sum of all violation severity weights from any one inspection is capped at a maximum of 30.

A Time Weight of 1, 2 or 3 is assigned to each applicable violation and each relevant inspection based on its age. Violations recorded in the past 6 months receive a time weight of 3. Violations recorded between 6 and 12 months ago receive a time weight of 2. All violations recorded earlier (older than 12 months but within the past 24 months) receive a time weight of 1. Using the exact same time weight scheme, time weights are assigned to each relevant inspection, including relevant “clean” inspections, which had no applicable violations. This time weighting places more emphasis on the results of recent inspections relative to older inspections. Time and Severity Weighted Violation is a violation’s severity weight multiplied by its time weight.

Vehicle Maintenance BASIC and Improper Loading/Cargo Securement BASIC Assessment

This section describes the measurement of the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC and the Improper Loading/Cargo Securement BASIC. The definition of each BASIC is as follows:

  • Vehicle Maintenance BASIC—CMV failure due to improper or inadequate maintenance. Example violations: brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, and failure to make required repairs. For a complete list of roadside inspection violations used in the SMS see Appendix A.
  • Improper Loading/Cargo Securement BASIC—CMV incident resulting from shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and unsafe handling of hazardous materials. Example violations: improper load securement, cargo retention, and hazardous material handling. For a complete list of roadside inspection violations used in the SMS see Appendix A.

The CSMS assesses both the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC and the Improper Loading/Cargo Securement BASIC using relevant violations recorded during roadside inspections to calculate a measure of each BASIC for individual motor carriers. These measures are used to generate percentile ranks that reflect each carriers’ safety posture relative to its peers.

Calculation of BASIC Measure

The equation used for calculating the BASIC measure for Vehicle Maintenance/Cargo Securement as well as HAZMAT is as follows:

Basic Measure= Total of time and severity weighted applicable violations

Number of time-weighted relevant inspections Average

Where:

Applicable Violation is defined as any violation recorded in any level roadside inspection that matches the FMCSR and HMR cites listed for Vehicle Maintenance (Table 5, Appendix A) and Improper Loading/Cargo Securement (Table 6 in Appendix A) during the past 24 months. In cases of multiple counts of the same violation, the CSMS only uses each violation cite once per inspection.

A Relevant Inspection is any Vehicle Inspection (Level 1, 2, 5 or 6) or any other inspection resulting in an applicable BASIC violation.

A Severity Weight is assigned to each applicable violation with a value dependent on two parts: (i) the level of crash risk relative to the other violation cites used in the BASIC measurement, and (ii) whether or not the violation resulted in an OOS condition. The level of crash risk is assigned to each applicable violation ranging from 1 (less severe) to 10 (most severe); see the Vehicle Maintenance Table (Table 5 in Appendix A) and the Improper Loading/Cargo Securement (Table 6 in Appendix A) for the corresponding severity weights of each violation cite. An OOS weight of 2 is then added to the level of crash risk for OOS violations. In cases of multiple counts of the same violation, if any of the counts of the violation are OOS the OOS weight of 2 applies. The sum of all violation severity weights from any one inspection is capped at a maximum of 30.

A Time Weight of 1, 2 or 3 is assigned to each applicable violation and each relevant inspection based on its age. Violations recorded in the past 6 months receive a time weight of 3. Violations recorded between 6 and 12 months ago receive a time weight of 2. All violations recorded earlier (older than 12 months but within the past 24 months) receive a time weight of 1. Using the exact same time weight scheme, time weights are assigned to each relevant inspection, including relevant “clean” inspections, which had no applicable violations. This time weighting places more emphasis on results of recent inspections relative to older inspections.is a violation’s severity weight multiplied by its time weight.

Calculation of BASIC Percentile Rank

Based on the BASIC measures, the CSMS applies data sufficiency standards and peer grouping to assign a percentile rank to carriers which then can potentially receive a CSA intervention or detrimental SFD. The calculation is as follows:

  1. Determine the total number of relevant vehicle inspections and the number of inspections with at least one BASIC violation. Remove carriers with (1) less than five relevant inspections or (2) no inspections resulting in at least one BASIC violation. For the remaining carriers, place each carrier into one of five groups based on the number of relevant inspections:
Peer Group

Category

Number of Relevant

Inspections

15-10
211-20
321-100
4101-500
5500+

Table 3-3. Peer Group Categories for Vehicle Maintenance and Improper Loading/Cargo Securement BASICs

  1. Within each group, rank all the carriers’ BASIC measures in ascending order. Transform the ranked values into percentiles from 0 (representing the lowest BASIC measure) to 100 (representing the highest BASIC measure). Eliminate carriers that meet the following criteria: (i) no violation was recorded in the BASIC during the previous twelve months, and (ii) no violation in the BASIC was recorded during the latest relevant inspection. For the remaining carriers with five or more relevant inspections resulting in a BASIC violation, assign the percentiles to each carrier.

Crash Indicator Assessment

This section describes the measurement of the Crash Indicator. The definition of the Crash Indicator is as follows:

Crash Indicator—Histories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity, based on information from state-reported crash reports.

Although the BASICs are used to measure an entity’s behaviors, the crash history utilized by the Crash Indicator is not specifically a behavior; instead, it is the consequence of behavior and may indicate a problem with the entity that warrants intervention.

The CSMS assesses the Crash Indicator using relevant state-reported crash data and the size of the carrier to evaluate an entity’s crash history relative to its peers and to calculate a measure of the indicator for individual motor carriers. This measure is used to generate percentile ranks that reflect each carrier’s crash posture relative to its peers.

Calculation of Crash Indicator Measure or CIM

The equation used for calculating the Crash Indicator measure is as follows:

CIM= Total of time and severity weighted applicable crashes

Average Measure of carrier power units

Where:

Applicable Crash is a state-reported crash that meets the reportable crash standard during the past 24 months. A reportable crash involves ones or more vehicles being towed from the scene, injuries or fatalities.

Crash Severity Weight places more weight on crashes with more severe consequences. For example, a crash involving an injury or fatality is weighted more heavily than a crash where only a tow-away occurred. A hazmat release also increases the weighting of a crash, as shown in Table 3-4 Below.

Crash TypeCrash Severity Weight
Involves tow-away but no injury or fatality1
Involves injury or fatality2
Involves a hazmat releaseCrash Severity Weight (from above)

+ 1

Table 3-4. Crash Severity Weights for Crash Indicator

A Time Weight of 1, 2 or 3 is assigned to each applicable crash based on the time elapsed since it occurred. Crashes that occurred in the past 6 months receive a time weight of 3. Crashes that occurred between 6 and 12 months prior to the measurement date receive a time weight of 2. All crashes that happened later (older than 12 months but within the past 24 months) receive a time weight of 1. This time weighting places more emphasis on recent crashes relative to older crashes.

Time and Severity Weighted Crash is a crash’s severity weight multiplied by its time weight.

Average Power Units (PUs) is used to account for a carrier’s level of exposure when calculating the Crash Indicator measure. The number of CMVs involved in applicable crashes is normalized by the number of owned, term-leased, and trip-leased power units (trucks, tractors, hazardous-material tank trucks, motor coaches, and school buses) contained in the Census data. The primary sources of power unit information in the Census are Forms MCS-150 and MCS-151. Carriers are required to update their MCS-150 information biennially. Carrier average PUs are calculated by using the current number of PUs and the number of PUs a carrier had in the middle of each of the two time periods:

PU Average= PU (Current) + PU (6 Months) + PU (12 Months)

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Calculation of Crash Indicator Percentile Rank

Based on the Crash Indicator measures, the CSMS applies data sufficiency standards and peer grouping to assign a percentile rank to carriers that can potentially receive a CSA intervention. The calculation is as follows:

  1. A. For carriers with two or more applicable crashes, place each carrier into one of five groups based on its average PU size:
Peer Group

Category

Number of Relevant

Inspections

15-10
211-20
321-100
4101-500
5500+

Table 3-5. Peer Group Categories for Crash Indicator

  1. B. Within each group, rank all the carriers’ Crash Indicator measures in ascending order. Transform the ranked values into percentiles from 0 (representing the lowest indicator measure) to 100 (representing the highest indicator measure). Eliminate carriers that did not have a crash recorded in the previous twelve months. Then, assign the percentile values to all remaining carriers.

 

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