What’s the Big Deal About FMCSA Trucking Data Anyway?

FMCSA Report on Large Truck Crashes

Trucking Data

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released its annual trucking data report on large commercial vehicle crashes in the United States. According to the report, there were 4,824 fatal crashes, 107,000  injury crashes, and 332,000 property damage-only crashes in 2020.  These numbers reflect a slight decrease from the same total numbers reported for 2019.  Good news, bad news because 4965 people still died.

We know that truck driving is dangerous. The agency says that collision with a vehicle in transport was the first harmful event (the first event during a crash that resulted in injury or property damage) in 72 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks, 81 percent of injury crashes involving large trucks, and 74 percent of property damage only crashes involving large trucks. 

In 2020, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes. Speeding was the most frequent driver-related factor and impairment like fatigue, alcohol, or illness was the second most common.  From 2018-2020. the number of large trucks in the United States with no issuing authority in fatal crashes increased by 11 percent, from 740 to 819.

These statistics paint a not-so-pleasant picture of safety on the roadways where large trucks travel. Now, enter freight transportation brokers and the concept of negligent hiring. Negligent hiring refers to situations where a freight broker fails to properly investigate the background of a motor carrier prior to hiring them. If a customer hires a freight broker to secure transportation for goods, it’s often assumed that the freight broker has knowledge about the driver/carrier’s experience and ability to perform the job safely. However, if negligence in the hiring decision is proven, the freight broker could be found liable for damages caused by the driver/carrier.

The big deal about the FMCSA’s trucking database is that it becomes the foundational source of truth for due diligence when vetting motor carriers.

Who is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the lead agency of the Department of Transportation. Their responsibility is to regulate and provide oversight of commercial motor vehicle operators including over 500,000 commercial truck drivers, over 4,000 interstate bus carriers, and more than four million CDL holders including bus drivers.

As the agency tasked with managing trucking industry data, the FMCSA’s mission includes reducing crashes, injuries, and deaths involving large trucks and buses; improving highway safety and safety standards; promoting economic growth; and protecting consumers.

What Does FMCSA Do?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mission is to promote safe highway transportation while ensuring fair competition among motor carriers. To carry out this mission, FMCSA develops and enforces data-driven safety regulations that balance motor carrier safety compliance with efficiency. In addition, it harnesses safety information systems focused on high-risk carriers to enforce compliance with the rules. Finally, FMCSA focuses on educating the motoring public about the importance of driving safely.

What Are FMCSA's Publicly Available Safety Information Systems?

Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS)

The FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) is a trucking data base containing information about trucking companies, hazardous material shipments, and vehicle registrations.  The MCMIS Census File includes data on every active registered vehicle. Data is collected from the following sources: Vehicle registration documents, Insurance information, Driver licenses, Commercial driver’s license endorsements, and Other state licensing information.

MCMIS Census Files contains records for a steadily growing number of active entities, i.e., motor carriers, hazardous materials shippers, entities that are both a carrier and a shipper, or registrants (entities who register vehicles but are not carriers). In order to identify each entity, MCMIS assigns a unique number to each entity record. This number is referred to as the record census number. This is also the number supplied to an entity as the USDOT number, thus MCMIS is the database of trucking companies.

Safety Measurement System (SMS)

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulated motor carrier’s safety data appears online in the Safety Measurement System, one of their publicly available official websites. FMCSA updates the SMS once a month with data from roadside inspections, including driver and vehicle violations; crash reports from the last two years; and investigation results.

Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER)

SAFER provides motor carrier safety data and related services to various industry groups and the general public via the Internet.  

SAFER collects information about commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), such as trucks, buses, and tractors to ensure that they comply with federal regulations. This includes inspecting CMV drivers, vehicles, and hazardous materials (HMs). SAFER also maintains databases containing information about CMV safety deficiencies found during roadside inspections. These include violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations governing CMVs, as well as violations of local laws and ordinances.

The purpose of SAFER is to provide reliable data and analysis regarding CMV safety issues and safety compliance nationwide. In addition, SAFER provides access to inspection reports for the benefit of the general public.

SAFER maintains several websites that provide useful information about motor carriers and drivers. These sites are designed to help shippers, receivers, and consumers find out whether a carrier is properly licensed and insured; how many violations it has had; what its safety rating is; whether it is subject to an enforcement action; and whether the driver has been involved in accidents.

Users only need a company’s full legal name, USDOT number, MC number, or DOT ID number to perform a search. Each site provides the same basic information. However, each one includes additional information depending on the type of record requested.

A New Source for FMCSA Trucking Industry Data

Recognizing the market need for organized, crucial, consumable transportation industry data to support businesses and their technology needs, CarrierDetails.com launched to distribute standardized or custom datasets of all FMCSA-related information.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the foundational source of truth for trucking industry data, but that data is difficult to manage and consume. Carrier Details is designed to provide organizations across the entire spectrum of the motor carrier industry with a reliable source of comprehensive, timely, accurate, consistent, and actionable FMCSA information.  

Carrier Details provides both standard and custom datasets covering Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration MCMIS Census data, SAFER Licensing, Insurance, and Safety data, SMS Inspection, Crash and Violations data, and Other trucking industry data.

Trucking Data

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