Daily we are asked by someone who wants to know, When is the Safety Audit? Let’s look at what the regulations say. Title 49 CFR, Part 385.307 tells us that,
“After a new entrant satisfies all applicable pre-operational requirements, it will be subject to the new entrant safety monitoring procedures for a period of 18 months. During this 18-month period:
(a) The new entrant’s roadside safety performance will be closely monitored to ensure the new entrant has basic safety management controls that are operating effectively.
“(b) A safety audit will be conducted on the new entrant, once it has been in operation for enough time to have sufficient records to allow the agency to evaluate the adequacy of its basic safety management controls. This period will generally be at least 3 months.”
The purpose of the three month period is a period of time to establish (1) a “track record” and (2) document that your compliance is satisfactory and controls are in place. The DOT is looking for any tickets, collisions, roadside inspection data and the like. Since the start of the CSA enforcement program, DOT auditors look especially closely at roadside inspection data. During this pre-audit period your operations are also generating documents by the driver, human resources and driver qualification, inspections and maintenance., etc., and you have instituted best practices and training, policies and procedures for your particular operations.
Sometimes your actual operations may be postponed or delayed for various reasons. If operations have not yet started, then be sure to indicate that to the auditor before the audit, as there would not be any documentation and paperwork to audit for DOT compliance purposes.
Typically you can expect notification of audit, generally by letter, anywhere from three to six months after issuance of the DOT Number (occasionally a year and sometimes as long as 18 months later). Actual procedures may vary by state. For example, Wisconsin requires the motor carrier contact the audit section after the 90 days or they will cancel the DOT number.
In rare instances, for example, after a bad collision, the DOT can just show up at your door and demand to see your files. There is no “grace period” to marshal your resources as the next section of Part 385.307 says:
“(c) All records and documents required for the safety audit shall be made available for inspection upon request by an individual certified under FMCSA regulations to perform safety audits.”
The key words here are “upon request;” not later, not next week or next month.
Will you be ready? Please don’t delay preparation for another day.