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What Is the Safety Management Cycle?

Vizualization of the steps in the Safety Management Cycle

The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) is the signature tool behind the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) investigative process. FMCSA designed the SMC to help Safety Investigators (SIs) and motor carriers improve safety by identifying and correcting safety performance and compliance issues.

How Is the Safety Management Cycle Used

The SMC provides SIs and motor carriers with a step-by-step process that goes beyond just identifying “what” the violation is to get at “why” the safety performance issue is occurring. The tool is made up of the following six Safety Management Processes (SMPs), which are laid out in a specific order to represent the areas of a motor carrier’s operations: Policies and Procedures, Roles and Responsibilities, Qualification and Hiring, Training and Communication, Monitoring and Tracking, and Meaningful Action.

Taken together, the SMPs help to provide a framework for SIs and motor carriers to identify and correct breakdowns or safety compliance issues before or after they have occurred. This framework can be applied to all of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Hazardous Materials Compliance, and Crash Indicator.

As part of this framework, SIs and motor carriers use job aids to assist them in applying the SMC. SMC job aids are available for each of the BASICs with the exception of the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, which has two separate job aids: Inspection-Repair-Maintenance and Cargo-Related. These job aids provide recommended safety improvement practices, which FMCSA developed with input from enforcement personnel and the motor carrier industry.

To learn more about how to use the SMC, check out the Overview and Case Study (PDF, 2.6 MB), which includes a fictional case study, and the SMC job aids below.

  • Safety Management Cycles by BASIC

  • Overview and Case Study

    This factsheet is designed to help familiarize carriers with how to use the SMC and its six Safety Management Processes. FMCSA has also provided a supplemental case study that shows carriers how to use the SMC in the long-term.

    Download (PDF, 2.6 MB)

  • Unsafe Driving

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the Unsafe Driving BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 530 KB)

  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the HOS Compliance BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 485 KB)

  • Driver Fitness

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the Driver Fitness BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 491 KB)

  • Controlled Substances/Alcohol

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 485 KB)

  • Vehicle Maintenance - Cargo-Related

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the Vehicle Maintenance - Cargo-Related BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 421 KB)

  • Vehicle Maintenance - Inspection-Repair-Maintenance

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the Vehicle Maintenance - Inspection-Repair-Maintenance BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 449 KB)

  • Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the HM Compliance BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 344 KB)

  • Crash Indicator

    The SMC is a tool used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help identify and address motor carrier safety and compliance issues. Motor carriers can also use the SMC within their own businesses to determine which of the Safety Management Processes (SMPs) that they may need to improve by looking at the processes, management and controls associated with each SMP. This SMC focuses on the Crash Indicator BASIC.

    Download (PDF, 479 KB)