What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation

CMV enforcementIt Starts With a Letter . . .

So said Justin Smoot of Cottingham & Butler in his webinar On Friday, April 15, 2016, What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation.

It’s a letter from your friendly Department of Transportation saying they will arrive within a week (generally within 3 days) for a compliance audit.

This is not the same as a new-entrant safety audit, whereas the DOT is checking out your level of safety. A compliance audit is looking for something specific.

That something could be an acute regulation violation — severe enough as to require immediate corrective actions (usually a singularity) — or a critical regulation violation — indicative of breakdowns in a carrier’s management controls (usually a pattern or repeat violation). The audit letter will specify what records will be looked at.

Top Audit Tip: Cull your records— only provide what was asked for.

Typical DOT Audit Items

• The MCS-90

The MCS-90 endorsement is the form that serves as the required proof that the motor carrier is in compliance with the federal regulations to protect the public.

The MCS-90 form applies to both interstate carriers and certain intrastate carriers (based on commodity hauled).

The form could be found within your insurance policy or attached to the policy. Ask your agent about it if you cannot identify the form. This form should be kept at your place of business. Your insurance agent will provide you with a copy of the MCS-90.

Top Audit Tip: Create a MCS 90 File

• The DOT Accident File / Accident Register

Let’s be clear, the DOT Accident File / Accident Register is always a required form (or file), whether or not  your company was involved in a collision. Write “NONE” on the form if you have not had any DOT reportable collisions. At least have a State Police or Highway Patrol accident report in file for each collision. The DOT may check this against your Loss Run record.

Top Audit Tip: Create DOT Accident File / Accident Register

• The Driver Qualification (DQ) File

Each driver (or, really, every CMV driver applicant) needs to have a Driver Qualification (DQ) File.  I find myself blogging more and more on the topic of DQ files and the more I blog, the more seems to be left unsaid.

The driver needs to meet the requirements of the General Qualifications under 391.11.

The DQ File, itself, needs to meet the General requirements for driver qualification files under 391.51.

The Application for Employment needs to meet the elements under 391.21.

Certain background Investigation and Inquiries are required under 391.23.

  • And pay particular attention to the minimum requirements under 391.23 (d.) and the drug and alcohol requirements of 40.25.

The driver needs to meet the physical qualifications under 391.41(a).

  • The driver further needs to certify their medical certificate with the DMV or state licensing agency.
  • The employer (motor carrier) needs to document the driver went to an examiner listed on the National Registry.

Drivers have to certify any violations under 391.25.

There should be a Road Test (or for CDL drivers, an equivalent under 391.33.

Lastly, drivers may need certification of entry-level training under Part 380.

Other DOT Audit Areas . . .

Justin Smoot covered Drug and Alcohol testing requirements, Hours of Service, Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs), Corrective Safety Plans, and much more. Specific questions were answered by Justin by email.

For future webinars, please visit Cottingham & Butler’s Transportation Safety Webinar Series.

Thank you for reading this and much thanks to Justin Smoot.


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