FMCSA Cuts Deadline for Correcting New Entrant Flaws

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Week of August 20, 2012
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is toughening its policy on allowing New Entrants to correct flaws found during the New Entrant Safety Audit.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a new plan, cutting the time limit for New Entrants to correct problems found in a safety audit. The policy change was initiated as too many carriers were waiting the maximum amount of time before filing a corrective action plan.

New Entrant Safety Audits

A New Entrant Safety Audit is an unavoidable rite of passage for any motor carrier looking to get started. Unlike a Compliance Review or roadside inspection, the NESA is designed to be more educational as opposed to punitive.

New Entrants are measured against 16 criteria regarding the regulations. These ‘16 Deadly Sins’ are used to educate carriers about the regulations and to ensure that they are following them. If a carrier is found to have violated any of these criteria, they have thirty days to file a plan with FMCSA to file a plan proving that they are working to come into compliance.

New Plan; Tighter Timelines

Under the new policy, the New Entrant Carrier must submit a corrective action plan within 15 days of the audit with some violations requiring an accelerated submission within 10 days of the audit.
The consequences of not complying with these rules can be severe. FMCSA will review the corrective action plan within 30 days of the audit, as required by law. If a carrier does not get their plan in within the time limits, the agency claims it may not review them. Therefore the carrier would lose their authority and be forced off the roads, at least for another month.

Slow Carriers

FMCSA was prompted to this action by the overwhelming number of New Entrants that were waiting the maximum amount of time to file their plan. As it took time for FMCSA inspectors to review the plan and ensure that the carriers were in compliance, non compliant carriers were being kept on the road for far longer than they should have.

Intensifying Safety Audits

This move is the latest by FMCSA to intensify the NESA. While the Audit is still intended to be educational, it is clear that the agency is trying to show that NESA does actually have some teeth.
Earlier this year, FMCSA made it known that violating the following regulations would result in expedited action:

  • Using a driver not possessing a valid commercial driver’s license to operate a commercial vehicle as defined under 49 CFR Part 383.5. An invalid commercial driver’s license includes one that is falsified, revoked, suspended, expired, or missing a required endorsement.
  • Operating a vehicle placed out of service for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations or compatible State laws and regulations without taking necessary corrective action.
  • Being involved in, through action or omission, a hazardous materials reportable incident, as described under 49 CFR Parts 171.15 or 171.16, involving:
  • A highway route controlled quantity of certain radioactive materials (Class 7).
  • Any quantity of certain explosives (Class 1, Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3).
  • Any quantity of certain poison inhalation hazard materials (Zone A or B).
  • Being involved in, through action or omission, any two or more hazardous materials reportable incidents as described under 49 CFR Parts 171.15 or 171.16, involving hazardous materials other than those listed above.
  • Using a driver who tests positive for controlled substances or alcohol or who refuses to submit to required controlled substances or alcohol tests and who has not completed the Return-to-Duty process.
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle without the levels of financial responsibility required under 49 CFR Part 387.
  • Having a driver or vehicle out-of-service rate of 50 percent or more based upon at least three inspections occurring within a consecutive 90- day period.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 112, No. 752 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2012