The Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) is one of seven categories used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative to evaluate how a motor carrier ranks in comparison to others.

The HM BASIC addresses the requirements outlined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and refers to the operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by drivers who are deemed unfit to operate a CMV due to a lack of experience, training, or medical qualifications.

The Hazardous Materials BASIC Basics

A carrier’s measurement for each BASIC depends on the following:

  • The number of crashes or violations related to that BASIC
  • When the incident occurred 
  • The severity of the crashes or violations

The severity of all roadside inspection violations involving a BASIC is weighed differently. Officials first examine the incident’s association with crash occurrences and crash consequences.

The severity weights for violations are assigned on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing the lowest crash risk and 10 representing the highest crash risk.

Maintaining Low Scores

There are numerous advantages to keeping your HM BASIC scores low. Low scores mean fewer collisions and safer truck drivers, as well as reduced insurance costs.

Here are some simple tips to help you keep your scores as low as possible:

  • Instruct your drivers on how to handle hazardous materials safely. The FMCSA requires that you provide driver training every 3 years or when there’s a change in job function. You should also keep records of such training:
    • HM safety education should include guidance on how to properly package, mark, label, placard, and load HMs in accordance with the FMCSRs and Hazardous Materials Regulations. Also, inform drivers where they can and can’t park, as well as which roadways they must take when transporting HMs.
  • Include instructions for loading and unloading cargo in your company’s safety policy.
  • Conduct MVR searches on your drivers on a regular basis to ensure they are qualified to transport HMs. It’s probably impractical to run the reports daily or even weekly, but doing so monthly or twice a year allows you to keep a closer eye on your drivers and avoid potential violations.
  • Always provide shipping papers and a written route to drivers prior to a trip.
  • Don’t tolerate drivers who handle HMs in an unsafe manner. If not done so properly, HMs can cause significant damage to your employees, other drivers, and the environment. Allowing drivers to smoke while transporting HMs is strictly prohibited.
  • If a driver’s record contains an inaccurate violation, appeal it immediately. If you have a strong case for the appeal, such as GPS records of the driver’s speed at the time of the traffic citation, it’s possible that the ticket will be removed from the record. To appeal, use the DataQs system.

How Do You Compare?

The FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) assigns each motor carrier an overall BASIC status based on roadside inspection results expressed as a percentile rank and/or prior investigation violations. You and your drivers can check your scores by going to

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There are major benefits to keeping your HM BASIC scores low. Not only does it help keep your fleet on the road, low scores mean fewer accidents and safer drivers, as well as lower insurance costs.