FMCSA Safety Management Cycle: Address Your CSA Risk Head-On

The FMCSA wants to keep you–and the larger driving public–safe on our nation’s roads. And it believes its new signature tool, the Safety Management Cycle, or SMC, will help you do just that.

Rather than simply identifying violations, the SMC is meant to assist you in taking a hard look at why safety and compliance issues are occurring in the first place.

And prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.


Do you need to reevaluate your safety and compliance policies and procedures?

What is the Safety Management Cycle (SMC), exactly?

The SMC is a framework that will lead you, step-by-step, to a safer, more compliant fleet. It will help you:


  • Evaluate where and why safety and compliance breakdowns are happening
  • Focus on factors that contribute to these breakdowns across your trucking business
  • Develop solutions that will effectively address those problems–before accidents occur

Before we examine how you’ll use SMC, let’s take a look at the areas it targets first.

SMC’s Safety Management Processes

The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) outlines six operational areas where fleet safety and compliance breakdowns might occur. They’re intended to be assessed in order, from 1-6.

1. Policies and Procedures. It’s critical for you to establish safety guidelines for your employees. Documentation of these policies and ways to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the policies is critical when fostering a culture of safety.

2. Roles and Responsibilities. You need to be crystal clear on what each employee’s role is in executing your policies and procedures. From driver and loading dock, to dispatcher and CEO; each employee should be accountable for their actions.

3. Qualification and Hiring. Obviously, having the right people in place is the foundation for safe behavior.

4. Training and Communication. You have policies and procedures in place? That’s a great start. Now, keeping everyone on the same page, so everyone understands what’s expected and has the necessary training to develop adequate skills and knowledge moves your policies from theory to reality.

5. Monitoring and Tracking. You’ll have to put systems in place to monitor and track employee safety performance. Without hard data, you’ll be making critical business decision based on gut-feeling–and that’s not effective.

6. Meaningful Action. Plans, procedures, qualification, training and monitoring are foundations, but fleets must have tools to correct or improve employee behavior, as well.



Evaluate your trucking company using SMC

So, are you ready to put SMC to work? Lets break it down:

1. Identify safety and compliance issues. First, log into SMS and review your fleet’s violations and crash history. Do you see any patterns? Do you detect any areas where your fleet is particularly weak?

2. Assess issues against the 6-part Safety Management Processes. Now, lets say you’ve identified that your fleet is weak on Hours of Service compliance and speeding. Review each of those concerns against the Safety Management Processes above, starting with Policies and Procedures. Where are your safety management controls failing your fleet? Which processes are broken and warrant a closer look?

3. Examine the whys. Now that you understand where breakdowns are happening, it’s time to delve into the whys. Has your policy on speeding been clearly communicated to your drivers? Do you have tools in place to monitor HOS compliance? Taking the time to thoroughly investigate why issues are occurring will help you identify the best possible solutions.

4. Process improvement planning. Which weaknesses present the greatest potential for safety and compliance violations? Prioritize those areas for improvement. Then, get to work tackling them one-by-one. Develop a systems improvement plan and clearly outline how you will implement those changes effectively, as well as how you’ll track changes in process and behavior.

3 ways mobile fleet management systems address CSA risk

You want to create a culture of safety, and the new SMC gives you a powerful tool to help you do just that.

And in chatting with our customers, we’re hearing that mobile fleet optimization technology is having a huge impact on safety and performance, as well.

Specifically, we’re hearing about three ways fleets can monitor, track and improve behavior in three critical Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):

1. Unsafe Driving. One of the most cited violations is speeding. By measuring your drivers’ speed and establishing guidelines for safe driving, you can help address speeding concerns before they become violations. XRS solutions allow you to rank drivers based on speed bands, giving you the chance to reward drivers who are staying at safe speeds.

2. Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance. Keeping drivers and dispatchers on the same page is critical for safety. An Electronic Logging Device instantly lets you (and other critical decision makers) know when they can safely schedule a load, and keeps drivers aware of how much time they have left in a week. They also virtually eliminate form and factor errors – letting your drivers focus on the road, and not the next logbook entry.

3. Vehicle Maintenance. Having an inspection policy in place is important. However, having an Electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Record (DVIR) lets drivers and mechanics know of issues that need to be fixed. With eDVIR, you can monitor how complete driver inspections are and help address the relatively simple issue that tires, mud flaps and lights can create in Vehicle Maintenance scores.

Safety, first!

In the onslaught of new and ever-evolving FMCSA rules and regulations, the Safety Management Cycle gives you a simple framework for operating a safe and compliant fleet.

Where do you need to make improvements? Are your vehicle maintenance procedures placing you at risk? Is frequent hard braking indicating a safety hazard, and a need for additional driver education?

The time to roll up your sleeves and get to work is now…

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