CSA2010 Preparation Special: What Are The BASICs and How Do They Work?

on .

Week of August 23, 2010

Over the next few months, as implementation gets closer, Fast-Fax will explore various aspects of CSA2010 to help you prepare. This week: The BASICs.

The Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)
are seven categories within the Safety Measurement System — each looking at drivers and carriers separately — that focus on an individual area of safety compliance. Those areas are:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Driver Fatigue
  • Driver Fitness
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Cargo-Related
  • Crash Indicator
BASIC  Passenger
Unsafe driving, fatigued driving, crash indicator 50% 67% 72%
Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol Use, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo-Related 55% 72% >77%
 Once a BASIC Percentile Crosses These Thresholds an Intervention is Likely.

These BASICs are actually each a series of equations to weight the severity of a violation and the time since it occurred. In addition the equations all take into account the size of the motor carrier or the level of exposure to FMCSA enforcement that the carrier or driver has had.


So what does a BASIC get you? Essentially, the BASICs are calculated to create a percentile. This is a score, based on a specific equation for each BASIC which ranks a driver or motor carrier with its peers. As a rule of thumb, the lower the percentile, the better a carrier or driver does. Once a percentile crosses a certain threshold, (see the table above), FMCSA is alerted that there are compliance problems. FMCSA will take action based on the percentile. This action can include everything from letters of intervention to temporary or even permanent out-of-service orders.


In an effort to create a fair measure of a carrier, FMCSA has introduced a number of processes that will affect the equations used to calculate BASIC measures. FMCSA calls this process ‘normalization’. This is designed to echo the differences in exposure to enforcement between different carriers and drivers.

For example, the Driver Fatigue and Driver Fitness BASICs are ‘normalized’ by the number of driver inspections but the Vehicle Maintenance and Loading and Cargo Securement BASICs are ‘normalized’ by the number of vehicle inspections.

Weighted Measures

The BASICs are judging the carrier on the number and severity of violations that the carrier or driver has committed. In order to judge a carrier or driver fairly, FMCSA weights these violations by severity and time. For example, a minor log book violation would be judged much less harshly than driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Time weighting rewards efforts by a motor carrier to improve safety. A violation that occurred in the past is weighted less harshly than one that occurred more recently.

Power Units and VMT

In some BASICs, FMCSA looks at the size of motor carrier’s operation. In these cases, FMCSA takes an average of the number of power units based on the number of power units currently owned, the number owned 6 months ago and the number owned 18 months ago. FMCSA also takes the number of Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) into account compared to the average number of power units.

The average number of power units and the calculation of VMT becomes important later in the SMS process as a carrier is judged in relation to its peers.

Data Sufficiency

In circumstances where a carrier could face potential intervention because of a poor BASIC measurement, FMCSA employs what it calls ‘data sufficiency standards’ to ensure that there is enough reliable information to make a reasonable determination that intervention is necessary.

Editor: Donald E. Lewis, President • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 110, No. 651 • © Foley Services, Inc. 2010