FMSCA to Change CSA Scoring in Cargo Securement and HAZMAT BASICS

The safety protocol Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) has been undergoing several changes since it was launched in 2010, and now carriers are getting a sneak peek of substantial changes to the Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS) of CSA that are slated to be publicly available in July.

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said changes include strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by moving cargo/load securement violations from the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, and renaming the Cargo-Related BASIC the Hazardous Materials BASIC.

Cargo securement can be of particular concern for carriers, who may or may not be the one to actually load a trailer. Many drivers simply pick up a load from a warehouse, so carriers have to rely on the skills of the warehouse employees to load and secure the trailer contents properly.

The most common Cargo BASIC violation today is 393.104(b) - damaged or insecure tie-downs. Seven of the top ten cargo violations are directly associated with insecure loads or vehicle equipment, according to industry research.

To improve safety, carriers should know and understand their violation status and the relationship between their maintenance and cargo violations.

FMCSA will also be renaming the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Hazardous Materials (HM) BASIC, which will better identify HM-related safety problems and change how HAZMAT carriers are classified to allow for increased intervention scrutiny. Now HAZMAT violations will be placed in the HAZMAT BASIC, which will better identify HAZMAT-related safety problems and change how HAZMAT carriers are classified to allow for increased intervention scrutiny. The HAZMAT BASIC will include items such as placarding and paperwork violations.

FMCSA has said it is also working to better align violations that are included in SMS with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspection levels by eliminating the vehicle violations derived from driver-only inspections and driver violations from vehicle-only inspections. It is also working to better align SMS with Intermodal Equipment Provider regulations and improving the identification of passenger carriers.

As part of the changes, the SMS website will change current terminology, including the terms “Insufficient Data" and “Inconclusive," to fact-based definitions that clarify the carrier's status in each BASIC. It will also distinguish between crashes with injuries and crashes with fatalities.

FMCSA said the preview gives carriers an opportunity to see how the changes will affect their company and submit comments to FMCSA.

For more information on these changes, contact your local Penske Truck Leasing representative or visit

By “Move Ahead" Staff