The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced a sixty (60) day extension for motor carriers and other large truck or bus transportation companies to make comments and suggestions on the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS). The SMS has been used by the FMCSA to help evaluate the rate at which a transportation company either complies or does not comply with federal safety requirements and regulations. The FMCSA proposed to make certain improvements on the test and the comment period on these propositions to the SMS up to July 30, 2012. Since the SMS is very crucial in determining whether or not a transportation company (which often travels across state lines) constitutes as an imminent hazard to motorists on the road, this could greatly have an impact on the rate of Missouri semi-truck or bus accidents.
The SMS is meant to support the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Initiative that the FMCSA established in order to better assess whether or not a motor carrier or transportation company serves as an imminent hazard to public road safety. Historically, the SMS was based on the SafeStat measurement system which was mostly used by predecessor of the FMCSA (the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Motor Carriers).
The SMS is an empirical, data-based test that helps to identify certain problem areas of a transportation company if the FMCSA believes that the company may be a threat to public safety. For instance, the SMS identifies specific safety issues in a transportation company’s workplace. This could range from the company potentially not having licensed semi-truck or bus drivers, the company using poorly maintained vehicles, or other problems. Importantly, the SMS also allows a FMCSA investigator to suggest specific improvements that are aimed towards that individual company’s needs. The SMS also serves as a way to monitor on-road performance of a company and can even help investigators set up a kind of “schedule” for a period of time to see if the company has improved in safety areas it might have been weak in beforehand.
The SMS is especially important because it also addresses factors like the severity of the safety violation, where the violating company may rank among other violators, or severity of any possible semi-truck or bus accidents the company might have been involved in. If the SMS reports that the risk of allowing the motor carrier or transportation company in question is too great to the public, the FMCSA will deem the company to be an imminent hazard to public safety. The FMCSA will subsequently order the company to cease operations.
The proposed improvements to the SMS are currently private to the public, but the resulting comments by motor carriers could greatly alter how motor carriers abide to safety requirements. Motor carriers may add comments that make the SMS more lenient to motor carrier companies or even more stringent. Regardless, this may affect the rate of Missouri truck accidents in the future.