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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Identification of Factors Associated with High-Risk Prioritization

Project Goal:

In this study, the Research Division of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will conduct an analysis to identify characteristics common among motor carriers identified as “high-risk” and prioritized for intervention.


FMCSA uses data and output from a motor carrier safety prioritization system called the Safety Measurement System (SMS) to categorize motor carriers for safety intervention based on risk. Motor carriers exhibiting sustained and relatively poor performance in any of several safety areas indexed during roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles and drivers are categorized as “high-risk”.

Prior research has examined factors which improve carrier safety outcomes, such as operational practices which reward safe behavior or discourage unsafe behavior. This project seeks to answer a different question: are there any characteristics which are particularly common among high-risk motor carriers? If so, these characteristics might be useful in developing targeted measures, e.g., outreach and education, in an effort to assist carriers in achieving compliance and avoiding high-risk designation in the future.


FMCSA’s Research Division will conduct an analysis of available data to identify any characteristics which are common among high-risk motor carriers.

In particular, the Research Division will examine the extent to which factors not currently incorporated as core components of the Safety Measurement System or the prioritization system might correlate with high-risk categorization. While many factors will be examined, some possible examples include:

  • Carrier industry and type of cargo transported
  • Average age of power units operated
  • New Entrant Program status

Any factors identified via this effort will be reviewed for their potential utility in informing outreach efforts, field staff training programs, and other activities related to FMCSA’s mission.


N/A (Internal Project)