There are a lot of regulations that truckers have to follow, and the FMCSA has a Safety Measurement System (SMS) that includes seven BASICs. The BASICs address different safety areas for trucking businesses. One of those categories concerns the fitness of drivers to operate commercial vehicles. It’s called, quite appropriately, the Driver Fitness BASIC. We’ll explain what this BASIC is, how it’s measured, and how motor carriers can improve in this safety category.
What is the Driver Fitness BASIC?
As we mentioned above, the Driver Fitness BASIC is one of seven categories the FMCSA uses to evaluate motor carriers. They do this by seeing how the motor carrier compares to other carriers with similar safety events, such as inspections, crashes, and violations. This particular BASIC corresponds with 49 CFR Parts 383 and 391 (from the FMCSRs). These regulations concern the operation of a CMV by a driver who isn’t fit to do so, whether that’s because they don’t have sufficient training or experience or they’re not qualified medically to drive a CMV. (For example, not having a valid, proper CDL is a violation in this BASIC category.)
As we mentioned, this is one of seven BASICs. The others are:
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Controlled Substances/Alcohol
- Crash Indicator
- Hazardous Materials Compliance
- Unsafe Driving
- Hours-of-Service Compliance
Motor carriers can see how they’re doing in the BASIC by going to the SMS. The “score” will be expressed as a percentile, with a higher percentage indicating a worse safety performance. If the carrier has issues in this BASIC, they’ll see a warning symbol next to it. A motor carrier can see its record of crashes and request a review of information they believe to be inaccurate through Dataqs. So, if you want to find out more about how you’re doing in each BASIC, all you have to do is sign in to the SMS and take a look at your safety information.
Pro tip: There are a few documents you may want to hold onto that relate to this BASIC. You’ll want to keep tabs on your drivers’ qualification files. That means medical certificates, State driving records, employment applications, that sort of thing. Basically, you ought to keep track of the documents that you’re required to keep by the FMCSRs. Safety Inspectors may use them to assess the issues that a motor carrier might have.
Improving in the Driver Fitness BASIC.
Motor carriers need to make sure that they are committed to safety. That includes drivers and driver safety. To make sure that they are complying with regulations or to improve in the Driver Fitness BASIC, motor carriers can do a few different things.
First of all, it’s really important that motor carriers make sure that their CMV drivers are qualified to drive big trucks. That means that they’re qualified according to Subpart E of FMCSR Part 391. That’s a big deal, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these regulations so you know what you need to be aware of.
Second, keep in mind that violations of the BASIC only have a negative impact on the score for 2 years. So, your percentile can get better with time. Also, having inspections that don’t have violations can be a big help.
The FMCSA also has a Safety Management Cycle for the Driver Fitness BASIC. The SMC is a helpful tool that the FMCSA uses to identify and take care of safety issues for motor carriers, as well as compliance issues. The neat thing is that motor carriers can also use these tools to evaluate themselves so they can see different areas in which they need improvement. Basically, there are six different processes involved in the cycle:
1 – Policies and procedures
2 – Roles and responsibilities
3 – Qualification and hiring
4 – Training and communication
5 – Monitoring and tracking
6 – Meaningful action
So, the Safety Management Cycle can help motor carriers look through these different categories to see if there are areas in which they need to improve.
The drivers are of course one of the most important parts of motor carrier’s business. That’s why an entire BASIC is dedicated to driver fitness. It’s a big deal for a motor carrier to commit to safety at their business, all the way from managers to every driver. So, that’s what you need to know about the Driver Fitness BASIC.
It’s also really important to have the right insurance to protect your business. We can help you get the right coverage for your trucking business. Get started with your quote by giving us a call, messaging us on LiveChat, or filling out our online form. We’ll be happy to assist you with your insurance needs.