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New USDOT Regulations On The Horizon. The Most Significant Law Changes Since 1995!

By Jeff Schroeder
Posted Aug 26th 2002 10:00AM

road_issues1099a.jpgThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the USDOT, issued an interim final rule in May 2002. It could be one of the most far reaching regulations to hit the trucking industry since 1995.

Entitled the “New Entrant Safety Assurance Process”, it will affect all persons or entities that travel interstate and receive a NEW USDOT after January 1st 2003....whether private carriers or for-hire!!

Couple this with states that have adopted the federal regulations as their own for intrastate travel, makes for an immense impact.

To quote from the rule making “The FMCSA establishes minimum requirements for new entrant motor carriers to ensure that they are knowledgeable about applicable Federal motor carrier safety standards. After ensuring that they are knowledgeable about the application process, the new entrant will operate for 18 months in which time they must pass a safety audit in order to receive permanent DOT registration.”

Continuing - “This rule is effective January 1, 2003". FMCSA plans on issuing training material to assist the new entrant understand the laws.

All these efforts by the federal government are part of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 which directed, in part, the requirement for new entrant safety audit. The FMCSA has taken it one step further to include ALL carriers that travel interstate.

Note this is only for persons or entities (corporations) that get a NEW USDOT number after January 1st. Probably the reason there has not been a lot of discussion is that it affects FUTURE truck operators. Not ones that already have a USDOT number.

Although January 1st is significant, what is just as significant is how long it takes to currently get a USDOT number. Our experience is sometimes 45 days. That means, without further regulatory changes, you need to file both your operating authority (MC number) and USDOT number in November.

If a huge backlog of USDOT application are filed to meet the deadline, then backing up to sometime in October would be prudent!

There have also been conversations about adding the letters “NE” after the USDOT number for law enforcement to know who is a new carrier. This however was only a suggestion during the public comment period. Either way, the registration is only temporary.

The safety audit will consist of a review of the new entrant's safety data, a review of requested motor carrier documents and an interview session with an individual certified under FMCSA regulations.

FMCSA expects 30,000 to 40,000 audits to be required annually. This is on top of the current safety compliance reviews that are now done. Suggested time length for the audit could be 4 hours.

Those non-hazmat carriers who do not pass the audit will be given 60 days to get “their house in order” before a revisit. Hazmat carriers will only have 45 days.

Those carriers who fail the revisit will see a revocation of their registration (USDOT number) and an Out-Of-Service order prohibiting operations in interstate commerce. Those carriers that do pass the safety audit will have their USDOT registration become permanent.

Many in the industry feel that the FMCSA does not have the additional manpower to perform these extra audits. The FMCSA may potentially recognize this fact by entertaining the certification of private contractors to assist in these efforts.

Schroeder & Associates is a fleet service and consulting firm assisting small fleet operators in fleet regulations since 1985. Our specialty is interstate and intrastate operating authority and USDOT since 1985.

Schroeder & Associates “Helping Clients Deliver” (800) 253-5338

Schroeder and Associates Homepage


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