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FMCSA to revamp public display of carrier data

Nov. 4, 2013
The public display of motor carriers’ safety record will change soon if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration confirms a proposed new design for the Safety Measurement System website. The agency will publish a notice of its proposed enhancements in the Nov. 5 Federal Register. The planned changes were based on feedback from various stakeholders, including the agency’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, which appointed a subcommittee to address the website.

The public display of motor carriers’ safety record will change soon if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration confirms a proposed new design for the Safety Measurement System website. The agency will publish a notice of its proposed enhancements in the Nov. 5 Federal Register. The planned changes were based on feedback from various stakeholders, including the agency’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, which appointed a subcommittee to address the website.

A preview of the website changes launched today at https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMSPreview. Motor carriers can log in with their portal account to view their own data in the redesigned format, and the public can see examples using simulated carrier data. FMCSA has scheduled webinars on Nov. 18, 21 and 22 to provide detailed information. Comments are due in early January.

The proposed changes will not involve any revisions to SMS methodology but primarily will reorganize the display of information that is already publicly available on the SMS website and other FMCSA sites. For example, insurance and authority status currently are available only from FMCSA’s Licensing and Insurance Online website, and finding a carrier’s safety rating requires a visit to the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System website. The agency now plans to incorporate insurance, authority and safety rating information on carriers’ SMS pages.

FMCSA proposes several changes to the presentation of carriers’ Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) information, including a more prominent display of whether a carrier’s performance has led to prioritization for an intervention. Detailed data such as the percentile ranking in each BASIC would move to a less prominent location.

A more subtle adjustment is reordering from left to right the display of the BASICs based on how closely FMCSA says those BASICs are associated with crash rates. Currently, the BASICs are presented vertically with the driver-related BASICs first, followed by vehicle maintenance and the two BASICs that are hidden from public view: Hazardous materials compliance and crash indicator. FMCSA now proposes to list the BASICs horizontally in the following order: Unsafe driving, crash indicator, hours-of-service compliance, vehicle maintenance, controlled substances/alcohol, hazardous materials compliance and driver fitness.

One common gripe among carriers about the public website is that it presents their safety records as a snapshot, which might be misleading. The proposed design tries to address some of those concerns by enhancing the display of safety performance over time though displays and graphs users can customize. Also, the website would highlight a motor carrier’s individual performance measure in each BASIC to more clearly identify its performance trends over time. The measure is based on the results of the carrier’s roadside inspections or crashes and is not relative to other carriers in its safety event group.

Other website changes would:

  • Let users download the data for all of the carriers in the same safety event group used to rank a carrier’s BASIC percentile
  • Provide a motor carrier’s enforcement case history, including the date the case was closed, the applicable violations and any associated fines.
  • Display the total number of inspections as well as a breakdown of the number of inspections with violations used in the SMS in each carrier’s detail.
  • Clarify terminology in the SMS, such as the definitions of the terms “0%” and “<3 inspections with violations,” in a new glossary called “SMS Display Key Terms.”
  • About the Author

    Avery Vise | Contributing editor

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