FMCSA SAFESTAT: The Grading System For Carriers And Their Employees

by Rhonda

Believe it or not, it's far easier than you might imagine to get the safety records of trucking companies. You can read some interesting information in the FMCSA regulations in 385.3. The FMCSA collects data in four areas to grade the safety status of motor carriers (trucks/buses) who have DOT numbers. The 4 area's are:

  • Accident
  • Driver
  • Vehicle
  • Safety Management

Anyone can look up this information, and it is the same information that law enforcement uses to watch for carriers with a bad score. The DOT will visit the carriers to grade them for adequate safety management controls or lack thereof. This is done to identify and prioritize carriers for safety improvements.

For instance, if you use the Safestat module, you do a search for the carrier you want to look up. The next page will have a bar chart on the left for the 4 area's I mentioned earlier. Anything over 75 is not good. The higher the number, the worse its Safety status. This is one place for all the catagories that you do not want 100%.The "drivers" most generally will be in the 60 to 75 range (based on all the carriers I have looked up) with that number going up and down for getting accidents, speeding tickets, log book violations and more. All drivers can help this score go down by not having accidents, speeding tickets, log book violations and more.

How This Effects The Drivers

Law enforcement agencies nationwide monitor these statistics to identify which carriers are having the most problems. With literally millions of trucks on the road nationwide it is simply impossible to inspect and watch them all on a regular basis. So law enforcement agencies identify the most troubled companies and focus greater attention on those. The closer a company's scores are to 100% (higher scores are bad, lower scores are better), the more the carrier and drivers will be watched and pulled over.

So when you are looking for a job, check the ratings of some of the companies that you are considering to get a general idea of where they stand. Do not choose one carrier over another based solely on this score, but use it as a tool to help identify really poor performing companies in the areas of accident, vehicle, and safety management.

How The Scoring System Works

What the percentages mean is "What percentage of carriers are doing better than the current carrier you are looking up. For instance, if a carrier has a safety rating of 70%, that means that 70% of the companies being monitored have a better safety record than the carrier you are looking up. Yes, it's a bit backwards - most of the time that something is being rated, the higher the score the better. But this is our government running this program, so as you would expect, everything is done backwards.

The general Safety Ratingsare:


Who Else Is Effected By This System?

Drivers are definitely effected by this system. If you think you can "hide" your information from your employer, like logbook violations and tickets, you are wrong. Someone in the office of most trucking and bussing companies is likely monitoring this site often. I was one of them. Everything you do wrong gets put on this site.

Also, shippers use this information to determine a carrier's reliability. If the score gets too high, the shipper will likely look for another carrier.

I learned about this site in 2004. I started using it right away when my employer told me about it. I use it a lot. Go to the FMSCA Status of Motor Carriers Website and take a look at all the info and learn more about it. Some things you can not look up until you have the authority to do so. You will also find that some things are not current or currently being updated. It changes almost as much as drivers change jobs. I mainly use the site to look at the four main scores and to get the monthly rating. This is an excellent way to better understand your company and to help you understand that the drivers and carriers are being monitored.


A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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