New motor carriers now facing tougher scrutiny

| Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New motor carriers applying for operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had better make sure they have their i’s dotted and t’s crossed – and be telling the truth.

A new regulation targeting new motor carriers applying for operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officially went into effect today, Dec. 16.

The agency adopted the new regulation targeting new entrants into the trucking industry in late 2008. The rule outlined the so-called 16 deadly sins that could result in a new motor carrier losing their authority right from the get-go.

Now that the reg is officially in effect, truckers and trucking companies will have their authority yanked if they are found to have violated one of 16 different safety regulations during the new entrant safety audit. If one of the violations is found during a roadside inspection, that can trigger an “expedited action,” which is a safety audit or compliance review.

The key safety regulations, quickly dubbed the 16 deadly sins by industry insiders, are:

  • Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
  • Using a driver known to have an alcohol content of 0.04 or greater to perform a safety-sensitive function.
  • Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled substances test required under Part 382.
  • Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
  • Failing to implement a random controlled substances and/or alcohol testing program.
  • Knowingly using a driver who does not possess a valid CDL.
  • Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing an employee with a commercial driver’s license which is suspended, revoked, or canceled by a state or who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage.
  • Operating a passenger carrying vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility.
  • Knowingly using a disqualified driver.
  • Knowingly using a physically unqualified driver.
  • Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status.
  • Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared ‘‘out-of-service’’ before repairs are made.
  • Failing to correct out-of-service defects listed by driver in a driver vehicle inspection report before the vehicle is operated again.
  • Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.

Most of the violations are a “one strike and you’re out” scenario. However, two of the regulations – failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status and using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected – require a violation detected 51 percent of the time in trips reviewed.

Any motor carrier found to fail the new entrant safety audit must be notified within 45 days of the review. Once notified that they failed the audit, the motor carrier has 60 days to correct the problems or lose their operating authority.

Two groups – passenger-carrying operations and hazmat haulers – are being given only 45 days to correct any violations in their safety audits.

Any motor carrier that doesn’t prove the violations were corrected will lose its operating authority after the 60 or 45 days, depending on the type of operation. Once the FMCSA revokes the authority and issues an out-of-service order, the new entrant will have to wait 30 days before applying for authority again and starting the process all over.

And if the motor carrier gets the wild idea to submit an application that’s not 100 percent truthful, the consequences will be harsh according to the new reg.

According to the regulation, a carrier that furnishes false or misleading information, or conceals material information in connection with the registration process, is subject to revocation of registration and assessment of the civil and/or criminal penalties.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor
jami_jones@landlinemag.com