FMCSA proposes tighter oversight of new carriers

New motor carriers would be held to higher standards of compliance than they current face under a new proposal from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to enhance the existing new entrant safety audit was published in the Dec. 21 Federal Register.

FMCSA said it had identified 11 regulations that it believes are essential elements of basic safety management controls necessary to operate in interstate commerce. The agency proposes that a new entrant’s failure to comply with any one of the 11 regulations would result in automatic failure of the audit. New entrants also would be subject to the current safety audit evaluation criteria in Appendix A of Part 385. And if a roadside inspection discloses certain violations, the new entrant would be subject to expedited actions to correct these deficiencies.

The 11 critical regulations were identified by an internal working group FMCSA convened in 2003 to review and improve the new entrant audit process. Under the current system, a new entrant could violate one of them and still pass. So FMCSA proposes that violating any of the following regulations would result in an automatic audit failure:

  • Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program;
  • Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled substances test required under part 382;
  • Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance;
  • Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing an employee with a commercial driver’s license that is suspended, revoked or canceled by a state or who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle;
  • Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle;
  • Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage;
  • Using a disqualified driver;
  • Using a physically unqualified driver;
  • Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status;
  • Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared “out-of-service” before repairs are made; and
  • Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.
  • FMCSA said it plans to check compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and certain household goods-related requirements in the new entrant safety audit, if they apply to the new entrant’s operation. Failure to comply with those requirements would not affect the outcome of the safety audit, however.

    The agency noted that it would continue to provide new entrants with educational information on how to comply with the safety regulations and would give new entrants an opportunity to correct any deficiencies found. “FMCSA recognizes many new entrants are small businesses that are unaware of these requirements and continue to need the agency’s assistance,” it said.

    The NPRM also would make clarifying changes to some of the existing new entrant regulations and establish a separate new entrant application procedure and safety oversight program for motor carriers not based in North America.

    Comments on the proposal are due Feb. 20. For a copy of the NPRM, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 11061.