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CSA’s Safety Measurement System returns to public view with highway bill-stipulated changes

Carriers' inspection activity is the only information available now on the CSA SMS portal.

Carriers’ inspection activity is the only information available now on the CSA SMS portal.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has returned an altered CSA Safety Measurement System to public view. The recent changes follow the system’s wholesale removal from publication following passage of the FAST Act highway bill in early December. The FAST Act also requires a substantive review and reworking of the program before SMS scores for property carriers can be allowed to be made public again.

Following the Tuesday update to SMS information, FMCSA spokesman Duane Debruyne says that, with the exception of a “couple more IT issues to work through, … all the most substantive changes” to the interim public display have been made.

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That means carrier BASIC category scores, the primary percentile rankings that proved to be so problematic for many, are no longer shown in the public view.

Also no longer available are the individual BASIC measures that underpinned the scores. In the past, some agency representatives had dubbed those numbers more “absolute measurements” than the comparative percentiles, and language in the highway bill allowing for the publication of absolute measures led some to speculate those numbers may remain public.

As it stands today, however, the view in each individual BASIC but the Crash Indicator shows a graph of the most recent year’s inspection history.

Beneath the graph, lists of violations and inspections associated with each BASIC, where applicable, are also available with another listing of serious violations uncovered during investigations.

FAST Act highway bill signed by President Obama, FMCSA takes down CSA scores

As required by the law, the agency pulled the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System and its BASIC categories of carrier safety analysis and evaluation ...

In the Crash Indicator BASIC, the month-to-month number of carrier-involved crashes is graphed, and lists of each individual crash, irrespective of fault, remain.

Evaluative SMS information about passenger carriers remains available to the public, and freight carriers will still be able to access their own CSA SMS percentiles and other now-withheld information by logging into the system with their DOT-issued PIN.



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Todd Dills is Senior Editor of Overdrive magazine and writes from Nashville, Tenn. He frequently covers business, regulatory and lifestyle topics for the magazine and at His work on the “CSA’s Data Trail” series in Overdrive about the federal CSA program was awarded the highest honor in trade journalism – the “Grand Neal” – by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards. Dills’ Channel 19 blog covers a grab bag of on-highway hearsay, owner-operator news and driver views from the roadways the nation over. His work in trucking journalism builds on a background of news feature, fiction and other creative writing and editing. Find him here at the Channel 19 blog and via his Twitter feed, or send tips to or via phone at 205-907-2481.