Agency testing feasibility of remote safety audit for new carriers

inspectionThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced via the Federal Register this week that it began in July testing a new safety audit program for new entrant carriers in order to test the feasibility of performing the required audits remotely and electronically as opposed to on-site.

The agency would try to target high-risk carriers for its on-site new entrant safety audits and assess low-risk carriers remotely.

Carriers are required to pass a safety audit within the first 18 months of obtaining their U.S. DOT number, and the requirement of FMCSA that the audit be performed on site is costly and inefficient, the agency says, especially considering that more than 70 percent of new entrants pass the safety audit in the last three calendar years. Moreover, the current MAP-21 highway funding law requires that time period to shorten to 12 months.

According to the Federal Register entry, “The agency currently devotes the same resources in travel costs and staff time to on-site reviews of low-risk and higher-risk new entrant motor carriers,” FMCSA says.

The agency began in July with the testing program and will be applying the new procedures in California, Florida, Illinois, Montana and New York until July 2014.

In the test period, carriers with Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores above FMCSA’s intervention threshold, carriers with evidence of an expedited action violation, carriers with evidence of roadside inspection activity while transporting a placardable quantity of hazardous materials and passenger carriers will be flagged for an on-site safety new entrant safety audit.

All other new entrant carriers will be contact by the agency to submit paperwork for the audit online. FMCSA will look at driver qualification, driver duty status, vehicle maintenance, accident register and controlled substances and alcohol use and testing procedures, it says.

Based on the submissions, FMCSA will either prepare a report saying the carrier has passed the audit, contact the carrier for more information or schedule a safety audit at the carrier’s place of business.