The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has an audit requirement to ensure new trucking companies crossing state lines and national borders follow the same safety standards. This new entrant safety audit is required for all new trucking companies within the first year of operations. This article includes frequently asked questions about the DOT new entrant safety audit.
What is a DOT new entrant safety audit?
The FMCSA has New Entrant Safety Assurance Programs that impact US and Canada-based new motor carriers. New entrants are defined as motor carriers not domiciled in Mexico that apply for a US Department of Transportation (DOT) identification number to begin operations in interstate commerce.
The new entrant period is an 18-month period in which the company must demonstrate that it can operate safely, maintain up-to-date records, conduct periodic inspections, and perform maintenance on commercial motor vehicles. Finally, it must pass the new entrant safety audit.
During the new entrant period, the company is monitored for 18 months. During this time, the FMCSA will complete the DOT safety audit, monitor safety performance, and grant permanent authority to operate if the company passes the audit.
An FMCSA-certified auditor conducts the new entrant audit at the carrier’s place of business. Alternatively, the audit can be conducted electronically by submitting requested documents to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) online portal using their DOT Number and DOT Pin.
The FMCSA will alert the carrier as to which type of audit they have been selected for by mail or email. While the new entrant program lasts 18 months, the safety audit is generally conducted between 1 and 12 months after operations commence.
During the safety audit, carriers must provide documentation verifying they have established effective safety management controls. In addition, the auditor may request documents related to drivers and vehicles, general operating procedures, and record-keeping requirements.
Examples of documents that may be requested include the company’s policies and procedures, vehicle inspection reports, data from electronic logging devices, training schedules, and trucking insurance coverage, among others. Safety audits may include many people from the motor carrier, including drivers, the safety director, managers, mechanics, and administrative staff.
What happens when a company fails a DOT new entrant safety audit?
Some serious violations cause the carrier to automatically fail the safety audit. These violations include:
Alcohol and Drug Violations
- No alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
- No random alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
- Using a driver who refused a required alcohol or controlled substances test.
- Using a driver known to have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.
- Using a driver who tested positive or altered or substituted a test for controlled substances.
- Using a driver without a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
- Using a disqualified driver
- Using a driver with a revoked, suspended, or canceled CDL.
- Using a medically unqualified driver.
- Operating a motor vehicle without having the required level of insurance.
- Failing to require drivers to log service hours.
Repairs and Inspection Violations
- Operating a vehicle declared out-of-service for safety problems or before repairs are completed.
- Not performing repairs reported in driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs).
- Operating a motor vehicle not annually inspected.
Failure to Complete Audit
Most of the time when carriers fail the audit, it is because they miss the notification when the FMCSA reaches out to them to complete it. If a carrier falls into that category:
- Their authority is immediately suspended and put out-of-service for a minimum of 30 days.
- At the end of that 30 day suspension, they are required to complete the safety audit by scheduling an in-person audit with the agent their state has assigned to their account.Carriers cannot schedule this or do anything to remedy their out-of-service status until after the 30-day suspension is complete.
If the FMCSA determines that the company’s basic safety management controls are deficient, they will provide written notice no later than 45 days after completing the safety audit. The notice will also inform the new entrant that its DOT registration will be revoked and operations placed out of service unless it takes appropriate corrective actions to remedy the safety management practices at the company.
The new entrant must submit a written response outlining an FMCSA-acceptable corrective action plan (CAP). These corrective action plans must address the safety management issues and indicate how the company will achieve compliance.
Companies failing the safety audit due to an error may locate the nearest FMCSA service center and request a review by a Field Administrator. They can explain the error and include any supporting documentation, if applicable.
What is needed for the DOT new entrant safety audit?
The new entrant safety audit includes reviewing much documentation pertaining to all aspects of the company’s operations. The following checklist can provide a reference for documentation you may be required to provide during the safety audit.
All carriers must provide:
- A list of all drivers that work for the carrier, including first and last names, dates of birth, hiring dates, license numbers, and the state issuing the license.
- A list of all vehicles, including tractors and trailers, owned by the carrier, along with unit numbers, VINs, and license plates. You will also have to include the electronic logging device (ELD) or automatic onboard recording (AOBR) device’s make, model, and year applicable for each vehicle.
- Proof of insurance that demonstrates sufficient coverage to meet the minimum public liability requirements. If the carrier is for-hire or private but hauls hazardous materials, a signed MCS-90 form is required.
All carriers except agricultural and farming operations that stay within 150 miles of their place of business must also provide:
- Driver’s medical certificate: All CMV drivers must get a physical every two years by a registered medical examiner to demonstrate they are physically and mentally fit to drive.
- Driver’s motor vehicle record: All carriers must keep and provide a motor vehicle record for each driver’s Driver Qualification file.
- Driver’s license: All drivers must demonstrate they are licensed to drive the vehicles they operate, and must submit a driver’s operator’s license and a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
- Driver’s Records of Duty (RODs) and supporting documentation: Carriers must maintain records of each driver’s status for six months and submit 30 consecutive days of RODs for one driver along with supporting documents, such as toll receipts, fuel receipts, etc.). Record of duty must also demonstrate at least one interstate trip.
- Submitting electronic logging device (ELD) records can be done on the web by visiting http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/newentrant. You may enter “NEWS-xxxxx” code located beneath the “Upload Here” button on the RODs tab in the new entrant web system after you log in.
- Submitting AOBR or time cards (if applicable) can be faxed or uploaded to NEWS using the “Upload Here” button at the top right of the RODs page of the NEWS site after you log in.
- Vehicle Inspections: Carriers must provide a copy of one annual inspection or its equivalent for each commercial vehicle
If the company operates vehicles requiring a Commercial Driver’s License, you must also submit:
- Drug and alcohol testing records: These records must demonstrate that CDL drivers undergo pre-employment and periodical testing for illegal substances and alcohol.
- A pre-employment drug test is required for each driver, including a copy of the Custody and Control Form and a copy of the Controlled Substances Test Results.
- Proof of a random testing program and a list of drivers in the program is also required This can consist of:
- A signed and dated contract between the company and a third-party administrator; or
- Receipt of payment for a random testing program; or
- A letter from a third-party administrator verifying enrollment in a random testing program.
- A list of drivers enrolled in the random testing program from the third-party administrator.
- A list of drivers that have tested positive from the third-party administrator.
Any carriers that have been in an FMCSA-reportable crash in the previous three years also need to provide Accident Records. A reportable accident is one in which the vehicle was towed from the scene or when an injury or fatality occurred. If any driver at the company has been involved in this type of crash in the last 3 years, you must provide an Accident Register.
Carriers that haul Hazardous Materials must provide shipping papers for each type of hazardous material transported.