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FMCSA, states using new investigative techniques in carriers’ on-site compliance reviews

The U.S. DOT is honing the techniques it uses to perform on-site compliance reviews of trucking companies by expanding the number of interviews performed with carrier employees and checking carriers’ social media accounts.

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has in recent years found an appreciation for “Enhanced Investigative Techniques,” says compliance consultant Jeff Davis of Fleet Safety Services. “[FMCSA is] changing the way they’re doing audits throughout the U.S.,” Davis told attendees of November’s annual National Association of Small Trucking Companies meeting.

In the past, when FMCSA came calling to do a full on-site compliance review at company headquarters, contact with company representatives might be limited to safety directors and a handful of other administrative personnel, said Davis.

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He used the example of the requirement for carriers to have for each of its trucks an annual inspection. “In the past,” he said, “what you’d been able to do was, as long as you had that piece of paper” showing you did the inspection, “the auditor would check the box and move on. What they’re doing now is looking past the documents and looking into the culture of the company. They’re holding sequestered one-on-one interviews with accounting, with sales, with drivers, and checking social media.”

In the quarterly Guardian publication from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (second quarter 2015), FMCSA training center director Ron Crampton outlined the intention to make training in EIT available to state auditing personnel, to add to the already-trained federal force. “The training is taught by seasoned investigators and uses case studies to help students apply the techniques,” Crampton wrote on p. 12 of the publication. “Since implementing the EIT program at FMCSA, the agency has significantly increased the enforcement rate for investigations and has issued numerous out-of-service orders.”

Davis says carriers should seek the “Part C” of the audit report from any compliance reviews conducted by FMCSA or state officials. Obtaining the Part C may require a Freedom of Information Act request, Davis says, but the information provides “invaluable learning” for carriers, he said. Carriers do receive Parts A and B, which detail general company information and violations found, respectively.

“They do not release [Part C] to you,” Davis said, and what it shows essentially are the auditor’s notes, the method of operation of how you went through your audit. “It will list who they talked to and what their responses were, down to the nth degree” of detail.”

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13 comments
dsteelejr
dsteelejr

The government checking social media for violations of the law is nothing new. In fact, it's becoming the norm.

And while you are obligated to turn over certain documents (logs, BOLs, etc) and information, you don't have to speak to FMCSA investigators about anything factual when they want to talk to you, the driver. I wouldn't. Doesn't matter whether you've done anything wrong or not. The Supreme Court said in Ohio v. Reiner, 532 U.S. 17 (2001):

"One of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent men who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances. Truthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as those of a wrongdoer, may provide the government with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth."

YoteAnders
YoteAnders

the Communists had a "Political Officer" in every business, plane submarine etc to make sure everyone was doing what the state wanted. Now the FMCSA is doing the same thing. Enough is enough! if htey had done this when most mega carriers had started out, none of them would exist today. we need LESS government not more.

dsteelejr
dsteelejr

@YoteAnders We're not in Soviet Russia. This is still the United States of America. If the "Political Officer" comes to talk to you about anything factual, assert your right not to answer any questions under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constituiton.

TWade
TWade

It amazes me the companies that expect their drivers to run illegal by speeding, working off-duty, or cheating on their paper logs and then whine about how the DOT conducts their audits that will catch these illegal acts. 


Looking at the social medium of the company may not be the only social medium that they are looking at. They may look at the social medium of the drivers as well. You may be surprised by how many drivers will post on their Facebook page how many laws they broke going from point A to point B and give times and dates. These Facebook pages are public information which anyone can look at if they want. 


I was just looking at the Facebook pages of three local drug users/dealers that were caught with meth. One had a picture of him holding a bag of marijuana up on New Years night bragging about how they were going to party down. How stupid can one be?

Al Hudson
Al Hudson

@TWade Great point...and if their FB posts are location and time stamped...well, here comes the HOS violations for fraud.


2010CascadiaOwner
2010CascadiaOwner

SOCIAL MEDIA is a CHOICE.

Don't Feel ONE OUNCE of SYMPATHY for any COMPANY or DRIVER....

POSTING ANYTHING for Everyone to See, Private or Otherwise.

To Quote Forest Gump... " Stupid Is as STUPID DOES"

It's Not My Fault or Issue that YOU WERE PENALIZED, FIRED or Some Other Way Called Out!!!

And to be a CONSPIRACY WACK.... THE GOVT IS COLLECTING EVERY, Repete, EVERY BIT AND SCRAP OF INFORMATION about ANY and EVERYONE.

Of Course to be USED AT A DATE OF THEIR CHOOSING, FOR YOUR CONVICTION!!! Not YOUR Benefit....

ie: What you DID or DID NOT do on your "34 Hour Break".... Because you CRASHED AND KILLED HOW MANY???? Bad Truck Driver....

ie: WALMART in NJ, Famous People. CRETE in FL, Childern in a Station Wagon going to School.

Just to name 2 that were CONVICTED and HAD THEIR 34 HOURS OFF, MICROSCOPED!!!!

jayneinmontana
jayneinmontana

@2010CascadiaOwner WOW, sounds like you are on the side of government interfering in private matters.  How many more restriction can be placed on the backs of drivers before they break? How many more items does a driver have to be concerned about? Shouldnt they be concerned with doing their job in a safe manner? Its getting to a point that a driver has to check with FMCSA every morning to find out what they can do that day.. FMCSA first, then daily pre-trip second? 

Jersey driver
Jersey driver

First off, we are on PUBLIC roads. Not private. Second, i was trying to point out that the Walmart driver was a bad example of a good driver. He is the type of driver that makes the good ones look bad. If it wasn't for drivers like him, we wouldn't need more regulation.

Jersey driver
Jersey driver

That Walmart guy, kevin roper, was doing 65 in a 45 mph construction zone. On the NJ TURNPIKE. We as cdl holders expect 4 wheelers to understand how hard it is for us to stop when they cut us off. We should expect the same from our fellow drivers. He also had only 20 minutes left on his log.

jayneinmontana
jayneinmontana

checking social media??? OMG what next, asking how often we have sex??

DOTDoctor
DOTDoctor

Social media is the death of many professionals careers. Now it can become the death of a carrier.

FORMER UCS  OWNER
FORMER UCS OWNER

And don't forget it may take several days to conduct this "review" during which time the carrier continues paying wages and filling the voids in manpower for these "techniques". And now you have to use FIA to find out just what the backroom BS they needed to gather for their report.

HEY TRUMP ..... how about an Executive Order to put an end this useless waste of my tax dollars

Todd Dills is Senior Editor of Overdrive magazine and writes from Nashville, Tenn. He frequently covers business, regulatory and lifestyle topics for the magazine and at OverdriveOnline.com. His work on the “CSA’s Data Trail” series in Overdrive about the federal CSA program was awarded the highest honor in trade journalism – the “Grand Neal” – by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards. Dills’ Channel 19 blog covers a grab bag of on-highway hearsay, owner-operator news and driver views from the roadways the nation over. His work in trucking journalism builds on a background of news feature, fiction and other creative writing and editing. Find him here at the Channel 19 blog and via his Twitter feed, or send tips to tdills@randallreilly.com or via phone at 205-907-2481.