Safety Measurement System (SMS) Methodology: Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) Prioritization Status

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) core mission is to prevent crashes, injuries, and fatalities related to large trucks and buses on our Nation’s roads. An important step in achieving the mission is to identify unsafe motor carriers and prioritize FMCSA enforcement resources on those that pose the greatest safety risk. The Safety Measurement System (SMS) is FMCSA’s workload prioritization tool. 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). The SMS is designed to incorporate the safety-based regulations related to motor carrier operations. The SMS assesses compliance and prioritizes carriers 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 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), and Driver Fitness. 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). 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.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Methodology Revised September 2015, Document Revised February 2016.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Publication Date: 2016-2


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Version 3.0.5
  • Features: Appendices; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 162p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01603599
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 24 2016 4:59PM