Since the announcement of CSA, there has been a lot of attention focused on drivers.  For good reason!  The whole of the CSA methodology is centered on roadside inspections and driver behaviors.  There are two portions of the CSA methodology: the Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS) and the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS).  Recently, there has been a lot of speculation about what the FMCSA will do with the DSMS.  Here’s how it stands today!

What is the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS)?

The DSMS is a component of the overall Safety Measurement System (SMS). The DSMS is a tool that enables law enforcement personnel to assess individual drivers in the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) using 36 months of roadside performance data across employers.

In short, the DSMS is a toll that the FMCSA uses to assess individual drivers across the 7 BASICs.  They use 36 months of roadside inspection and crash history to determine this information.

Why was it developed?

One of the goals of CSA was and is to more closely monitor the safety and performance of individual drivers.  Previous studies (e.g. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study) had shown that a small part of the driver population is involved in a disproportionately high number of crashes (just involved, not the cause-of).  As the primary goal of the FMCSA is to reduce the number of crashes, under CSA they expanded their approach in fleet monitoring (SafeStat) to encompass fleets and drivers (CSA).

The FMCSA hopes that CSA will help to hold both motor carriers as well as drivers responsible for safety performance.  To do this, the FMCSA does have a Driver Safety Enforcement process to address problem drivers.  This only takes effect if the FMCSA discovers problem drivers during a carrier investigation.  Please note the FMCSA does not assign any formal safety ratings (SFD’s) to drivers.

Safety Investigators (SIs to the FMCSA) use the DSMS to identify potential problem drivers and focuses on those drivers with Red Flag Violations, those with number HOS violations, and/or making false entry on a medical certificate.  (See the FMCSA’s flyer: Driver Safety Enforcement: What Motor Carriers Need to Know.)

How is it enforced?

Enforcement from the FMCSA will come as a Notice of Violation (NOV) or a Notice of Claim (NOC).  These are taken directly against the drivers though a carrier could also be held responsible and receive enforcement action.  Neither carriers nor the public will be notified if a driver receives an NOV or NOC (

Notice of Violation (NOV) — The NOV is a formal notice of safety deficiencies that requires a response from the carrier. It is used when the regulatory violations discovered are severe enough to warrant formal action but not a civil penalty (fine). It is also used in cases where the violation is immediately correctable and the level of, or desire for, cooperation is high. To avoid further intervention, including fines, the carrier must provide evidence of corrective action or initiate a successful challenge to the violation.

Notice of Claim (NOC) — An NOC is issued in cases where the regulatory violations are severe enough to warrant assessment and issuance of civil penalties.

The FMCSA has repeatedly noted that they will NOT be taking any drivers CDL’s. The states reserve that right.