§ 385.311: What will the safety audit consist of?
The safety audit will consist of a review of the new entrant’s safety management systems and a sample of required records to assess compliance with the FMCSRs, applicable HMRs and related record-keeping requirements as specified in appendix A of this part. The areas for review include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Driver qualification;
(b) Driver duty status;
(c) Vehicle maintenance;
(d) Accident register; and
(e) Controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements. (Part 385.311)
If you have registered for a new DOT Number, depending on your operations, you may be subject to a New Entrant Safety Audit. If so, you will be notified several weeks in advance.
The safety audit is an examination of the new entrant’s safety management systems, including records and documentation to see if your operations are compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), any applicable Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) and related record-keeping requirements as specified in Appendix A of Part 385. The areas for review include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Driver qualification – Parts 383 and 391;
(b) Driver duty status – Part 395;
(c) Vehicle maintenance Parts 393 and 396;
(d) Accident register and copies of accident reports Part 390; and
(e) Controlled substances and alcohol use and testing. Part 382
Other areas looked at may include:
• Commercial driver’s license standard violations Part 383;
• Inadequate levels of financial responsibility Part 387;
• The use of unqualified drivers Part 391;
• Improper use and driving of motor vehicles Part 392;
• Unsafe vehicles operating on the highways Part 393;
• The use of fatigued drivers Part 395;
• Transportation of hazardous materials, driving and parking rule violations Part 397;
• Violation of hazardous materials regulations Parts 170 to 177;
• Hazardous materials incidents – Part 171.
Safety audits do not result in safety ratings.
Biggest Problem Areas
It’s no secret how new entrants fail the safety audit. The FMCSA recently reported on a new entrant who admitted he was too busy to concern himself with learning about the federal regulations. This wasn’t what the auditor wanted to hear.
Not responding to a request for an audit, or not having requested records is another way not to pass. Not responding (short of a “life or death” type of circumstance) can result in a cancellation of the DOT number and the need to re-apply in 30 days. In the mean time, you would not be able to operate your DOT regulated vehicle(s) in interstate commerce (and intrastate in some states).
Certain rule violations are considered automatic failures. Drug and alcohol compliance is high on the list. So is having a qualified driver, a vehicle with a periodic inspection and insurance, and adherence to Hours of Service rules.
Failure is Not An Option
A new entrant who fails the safety audit may be allowed to submit a written corrective action, within 45 or 65 days, depending on the type of their operations. Waiting to the last day to submit the documentation is not a good idea, as it needs to be approved.
The good news is that most new entrants will be successful, if they follow the federal regulations and keep good records (if it’s not documented— it’s not done)..