Getting Back to BASICs to Prevent Bad Truck Driver Behavior and Trucking Accidents

Thousands of people die each year in commercial trucking accidents. It’s no wonder, then, that in December 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched a new program designed to identify unsafe commercial trucking and bus companies, and drivers. The goal: to stop catastrophic accidents before they happen by getting dangerous drivers off the road, and shut down unscrupulous commercial enterprises.

In designing this program, the FMCSA went back to the BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) – a set of seven safety benchmarks to identify potentially dangerous outcomes. An examination of those benchmarks reveals a laundry list of the contributing causes of so many catastrophic trucking accidents,

Safety Issues For Commercial Trucks and Bus Operators

The FMCSA developed BASICs under the premise that large truck crashes can be traced to the behavior of commercial truck drivers and motor carrier companies. These driver and commercial motor carrier behavior benchmarks are:

  • Unsafe Driving – operating a commercial motor vehicle in a careless or dangerous manner, such as speeding, inattention, and improper lane change
  • Fatigued Driving – instances of driving while ill or tired, or driving more hours than allowed under Hours-of-Service regulations. This includes violations of proper driver logbook recording.
  • Driver Fitness – whether a driver is unfit to operate a commercial vehicle due to improper training, health or experience
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol – drivers behind the wheel who are using alcohol or illegal drugs, or are abusing prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines
  • Vehicle Maintenance – whether or not the motor carrier has properly maintained the commercial vehicle
  • Cargo-Related – did the motor carrier and/or the driver fail to prevent loads from shifting or unsafely handle hazardous material or drop or spill cargo on the road
  • Crash Indicator – this is not really a behavior but the consequences of a behavior; an examination to determine a history or pattern of crashes, for both frequency and severity

Government Interventions to Prevent Trucking Accidents

There are separate measurement systems, using these same criteria, for truck drivers and the commercial motor companies. The FMCSA works with state law enforcement agencies, using the data gleaned from the seven BASIC categories, to identify high-risk behaviors and proactively intervene in an effort to prevent trucking accidents. These interventions include warning letters, roadside inspections, and reviews to ensure compliance on previously cited safety violation issues.

But obviously not all trucking accidents are prevented, even with increased governmental oversight. Victims of catastrophic trucking accidents, therefore, need advocates on their side to properly identify who is at fault by reviewing many of the same factors listed above, and to obtain compensation for their losses.