What is a DOT Safety Audit?

safe What is a DOT Safety Audit? Backgrounder . . .

It started with the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA) of 1999 (Public Law 106-159) which established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000.

Section 210(a) of MCSIA, now codified as 49 U.S.C. 31144(f), required regulations specifying minimum requirements for applicant motor carriers seeking federal interstate operating authority, including a requirement that new entrants undergo a safety audit within the first 18 months of operations. These safety audits started January 1, 2003.

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) [Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405 (July 6, 2012)], requires the FMCSA to complete safety audits within 12 months for property carriers and within 120 days for motorcoach passenger carriers.

FMCSA has started nationwide implementation of the Off-Site Safety Audit Procedures. Beginning in summer 2015, FMCSA will do off-site new entrant safety audits in the following 11 States: Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington, DC. Passenger and hazmat haulers do not qualify for off-site audits. The remaining states and territories will move to off-site audits over the next 36 months.

audit ahead

Rules and Regulations

49 CFR Part 385 describes Safety Fitness Procedures. New motor carriers need to register for a DOT number and any required authorities (a federal certificate to haul) before beginning interstate operations.

49 CFR 385.5: The Safety Fitness Standard requires carriers have adequate safety management controls in place over the following areas:

(a) Commercial driver’s license standard violations (part 383),

(b) Inadequate levels of financial responsibility (part 387),

(c) The use of unqualified drivers (part 391),

(d) Improper use and driving of motor vehicles (part 392 ),

(e) Unsafe vehicles operating on the highways (part 393),

(f) Failure to maintain accident registers and copies of accident reports (part 390),

(g) The use of fatigued drivers (part 395),

(h) Inadequate inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles (part 396),

(i) Transportation of hazardous materials, driving and parking rule violations (part 397),

(j) Violation of hazardous materials regulations (parts 170-177), and

(k) Motor vehicle accidents and hazardous materials incidents.(various parts).

Safety management controls means:

The systems, policies programs, practices, and procedures used by a motor carrier to ensure compliance with applicable safety and hazardous materials regulations which ensure the safe movement of products and passengers through the transportation system, and to reduce the risk of highway accidents and hazardous materials incidents resulting in fatalities, injuries, and property damage

49 CFR 385.321 gives the reasons for audit failure as (a.)  failures of safety management practices (as described in Appendix A), and (b.) a table of violations that lead to automatic failures of the audit (such as not having an approved DOT drug and alcohol testing program in place, using drivers with no CDL or driver’s license or who were disqualified, not having insurance, running out-of-service drivers or equipment or a vehicle without an annual (periodic) inspection).

In Summary . . .

Every motor carrier regulated by the U.S. DOT needs to apply a set of principles, framework, processes and measures to prevent accidents, injuries and other adverse consequences that may be caused by unsafe commercial drivers or unsafe commercial motor vehicles (CMV).

Please see part380.com to learn more.

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta

 John Taratuta is an independent Risk Engineer (989) 474-9599)

Burning Question: When is the DOT Safety Audit?

burning question
                            When is the audit?

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.