Thursday, March 3, 2011

CSA - New Warining Letter Tipsheet Now Available!!!

The FMCSA sends warning letters to motor carriers whose safety performance data indicates that they are not complying with the applicable regulations. Warning letters are often the first step in the intervention process. Below, some helpful information on these letters, and tips on how to take action to improve your safety operations.

So, what exactly is a warning letter?
A warning letter is a correspondence sent by the FMCSA to a motor carrier’s place of business that highlights the BASICs that are assigned with an “alert”, or safety compliance problem. The letter outlines the possible consequences of persistent safety problems, and also provides instructions for accessing motor carrier safety data in the SMS system, as well as a point of contact if additional information is needed.

Why would a carrier get a warning letter?
Safety performance data shows whether a motor carrier is operating in full compliance with all applicable FMCSA safety regulations. Based on the data, the warning letter will list BASICs where the motor carrier’s on-road performance over the past 24 months indicates safety issues. The letter further encourages the motor carrier to look at its safety performance data online.

How do you respond if you receive a letter?
Motor carriers who receive warning letters should review their safety data in order to develop and execute strategies the will make their operations compliant with safety regulations. Continued poor performance may lead to more intensive interventions. Motor carrier are not required to write a response to the FMCSA when they receive a warning letter.

Need some tips on how to move forward with the CSA, and reduce the likelihood of getting a warning letter?

Tip #1 – Check your data
Log in to the FMCSA Portal to review your data, ensure data accuracy, and examine violation types.

Tip #2 – Understand your Safety Assessment – Percentiles and Alerts
Percentiles – The SMS calculates a measure for each of the BASICs . The measure is used to assign a ranking or percentile that allows the safety behavior of a carrier to be compared with the safety behavior of other motor carriers with similar operations and numbers of safety events. For more in SMS calculations and methodologies, visit Percentile thresholds have been established to indicate when safety compliance problems require intervention:

- Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Crash Indicator: General-65%; HAZMAT-60%; Passenger-50%
- Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo: General-80%; HAZMAT-60%; Passenger-65%

Alerts – You can receive an alert on a BASIC in two ways. The On-Road column lists the motor carrier’s percentile for each BASIC. If the percentile is over the established intervention threshold, the percentile is presented with an orange outline around the percentile. The Investigation column displays the “Serious Violation Found” icon for a BASIC if a serious violation was cited during an investigation within 12months of the SMS results date. The icon will remain present for 12 months following an investigation regardless of whether corrective actions have occurred.

Tip #3 – Improve Safety Now!
Conduct detailed data analysis, address safety issues, and periodically review SMS data.
Remember, motor carriers that do not improve their safety may be subject to more intensive interventions such as full or focused compliance reviews!!!

If you would like to obtain the full copy of the “FMCSA Warning Letter: TIPSHEET”, visit

Do you have any CSA experiences or tips of your own? What are your opinions of the new system?

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