GAO Criticism of the SMS Scoring Model | Apex Capital Blog

GAO Report to Congress: Criticism of the SMS Scoring Model

by Apex Capital | February 6, 2014

Last December, Apex Capital discussed the unreliability of the FMCSA’s BASICs scores and the flawed SMS scoring model. Since the scores were made public in 2010, anyone interested can see a motor carrier’s safety score in 5 of the 7 BASICs categories. Brokers, shippers, and insurance companies have been viewing these inaccurate scores, resulting in small carriers being denied business, experiencing non-renewal of insurance coverage, or being hit with increased insurance premiums.

For years, Apex Capital has shared the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation’s (ASECTT) concerns about the FMCSA’s SMS scoring model. ASECTT has sued the FMCSA in an effort to remove the BASICs scores from public view. Although the case is still waiting to be decided by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) isn’t wasting any time submitting its analysis of SMS.

The GAO just released its February Report to Congressional Committees and found that:

  • Data used to determine a carrier’s score is inconsistent due to differences in inspection and enforcement policies among the states.
  • Scores for small carriers may be inflated and fluctuate greatly because there is less data available.
  • Some of the data is self-reported, such as data used to calculate scores in the Unsafe Driving BASIC the Crash Indicator BASIC. This leads to inaccurate, missing or misleading reports from carriers.
  • Most regulations factoring into the calculations aren’t violated enough to be tied to crash risk. When the GAO studied the violations, 593 of the 750 violations studied were only violated by less than 1% of carriers.
  • A majority of carriers that are determined to be “high risk” by CSA have not crashed at all, showing a weak relationship between BASICs scores and crash occurrence.

Congress commissioned the Report due to concern over the effectiveness of the SMS scoring model. The Report suggests that only motor carriers who have sufficient data should be scored. Fewer carriers would be scored, but scores would be more accurate.

Articles criticizing the SMS scoring model are appearing this week in industry trade journals as well. Apex Capital wants you to let your congressmen and congresswomen know what you think by accessing the links below. Your voice matters.





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Apex Capital
Apex Capital is a full-service factoring company with over 25 years of trucking industry experience. Using our transportation expertise we write blogs that address topics like regulations and compliance, trucking business tips, industry news, and everything in between. We're committed to creating content that provides solutions, helping you and your trucking company.