Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

The 7 BASICs of Trucking Law Safety

What are the BASICs as they relate to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)? Very few people other than a handful of expert trucking law and tractor-trailer accident attorneys and lawyers or industry professionals like Safety Directors in the Trucking Industry have any idea how to understand these very complex rules also known as administrative regulations. The FMCSR have become inseparable from trucking industry standards and practices. For example, hours-of-service requirements for truck drivers – including the duties of drivers with regard to maintaining accurate logs, and the duties of trucking companies to properly monitor and audit their drivers’ logs – are both FMCSR requirements and industry standards. These requirements are complex.

The average juror, in the absence of expert testimony, simply is not equipped to review driver log books and supporting documents for purposes of determining whether or not a driver exceeded his permissible hours of service. Nor is the average juror capable of understanding how the FMCSR apply to each unique factual circumstance of each case. The average juror will not be able to determine how the FMCSR applies to the your trucking injury case unless an expert familiar with the standard of care in the trucking industry provides expert testimony. The average juror will not understand how and when the truck driver is required to reduce speed and/or discontinue operations in hazardous circumstances or when they are over hours and are driving while fatigued.

Most tractor-trailers in interstate commerce are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations issued under 49 C.F.R. §§ 380 through 399 which are enforceable pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act, PL 96-296, 1980 S 2245 and PL 96-296, July 1, 1980, 94 Stat 793. The motor carrier that is involved in a collision will be dispatched, supervised, monitored, operated, and controlled by the motor carrier’s Safety Department, Dispatch Department and Operations Department.

In order to obtain U.S. DOT motor carrier operating authority the motor carrier is required to sign and certify an M.C.S. 150 Form (application for D.O.T. authority) under penalty of perjury that it will be knowledgeable of all applicable FMCSR and provide the annual miles driven by the motor carrier.

49 C.F.R. § 390.3(e)(1) & (2) provide that every driver and employee shall be instructed regarding and shall comply with all applicable regulations contained in the FMCSR.

49 C.F.R. § 390.5 provides that "motor carrier" means a for-hire motor carrier or a private motor carrier.

49 U.S.C. § 14101(a) provides that "a motor carrier shall provide safe and adequate service, equipment and facilities."

The FMSCRs are located at 49 C.F.R. § 380 et seq. The FMCSRs and the MCA specifically under the section 49 C.F.R. § 391.1(a) and (b) states, “(a) The rules in this part establish minimum qualifications for persons who drive commercial motor vehicles, as, for, or on behalf of motor carriers. The rules in this part also establish minimum duties of motor carriers with respect to the qualification of drivers. (b) A motor carrier who employs himself/herself as a driver must comply with both the rules in this part that apply to motor carriers and the rules in this part that apply to drivers.”

49 C.F.R. § 390.11 imposes duties on the motor carrier to follow the minimum duties and industry minimum standard of care required by the FMCSR and states, “Whenever in part 325 of subchapter A or in this subchapter a duty is prescribed for a driver or a prohibition is imposed upon the driver, it shall be the duty of the motor carrier to require observance of such duty or prohibition. If the motor carrier is a driver, the driver shall likewise be bound.

Many trucking companies and motor carriers are the subject of numerous investigations regarding their failure to comply with the FMCSR. In 2010, the CSA created the regulatory monitoring criteria known as the BASICs. Since that time, the violation history of the driver and motor carrier are monitored closely by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The term basic stands for Driver Fitness Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC). This is one of 7 categories that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the DOT use to determine how a motor carrier ranks in relation to similar motor carriers in following safety doctrines. The FMCSA’s safety measurement system (SMS) is used to determine the overall basic status for every motor carrier. The data comes largely from roadside inspection results and post-accident inspection results. What are the BASICs? They include the study of:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Fatigued Driving
  • Driver Fitness
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Cargo-Related
  • Crash Indicator

The Carrier Snapshot can now monitor a motor carrier’s safety history by going to the website of the FMCSA and DOT which is found at:

This website will allow you to view a motor carriers past 24 months of accidents and out of service violations. The actual numbers used to appear for high violators. However, the law was changed in around 2017 to stop the public from viewing certain factors related to a motor carrier’s violation history. As a result of that change in the website, you now have to Use Freedom of Information Act requests to the DOT and the FMCSA to get this information.

If you been involved in a truck accident or truck to-trailer accident or big rig accidents or similar serious trucking collision with a semi than you should look for attorneys are been specially trained to understand the FMCSR and understand how to question truck drivers, safety directors, dispatch officers, citation officers, log audit personnel, hiring and qualification directors, risk management officers and other specialized medium and upper level employees and directors that are required by law to comply with the FMCSR. The bull attorneys and Brad Pistotnik Law have attorneys who have spent an enormous amount of time and energy to learn the trucking industry rules of the road and the regulations which all truck drivers and motor carriers must follow. We presently have more than a dozen industry books and manuals on truck driver and motor carrier safety and training. We know how to depose Safety Directors and get them to admit that they have little training or knowledge of the actual safety rules that affect their trucking company and many will not be able to answer the question of What does the acronym BASICs mean. You can call Brad Pistotnik Law at 800-241-BRAD or at 316-684-4400. You can also call us at 620-THE-BULL. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020 and you can call Tony Atterbury at 316-617-9237. We are The Bull Attorneys ® and we do not mess around. We mean business. We take trucking litigation very seriously and if you have been injured by a large truck then you need to call us.