FMCSA, Some States Sharpen Audit Teeth

FMCSA audit

From Todd Dills via Over Drive Magazine:

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offered a dark valentine to motorcoach/bus companies with announcement of its “Operation Quick Strike” enforcement sweep of such companies, during which it deployed investigative teams to target companies deemed “high-risk” by FMCSA terms. Those terms at the time defined a high-risk carrier as one whose ranking in the Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance or Crash Indicator BASIC exceeded 85 and who had one other Safety Measurement System BASIC ranking above the intervention/alert threshold. Another way to be deemed “high-risk” was to have four SMS BASICs above the intervention threshold.

The agency’s since changed that definition, narrowing it somewhat to include fewer carriers — for freight carriers to be considered high-risk today, the thresholds are 90 for Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance, Crash Indicator and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs, and the carrier has to be at that level or above for two consecutive months in at least two of those categories to get the designation. (Such carriers who have in fact been investigated in the past 18 months will not receive the designation.)

In 2013 reporting in the inaugural CSA’s Data Trail series, I outlined FMCSA’s further plans for the “lessons learned” from those quick-strike bus-investigation teams, in part by summarizing an official speaking on background about agency intentions to apply such to trucking. The official made note that truck fleets could be certain that lessons learned from the experience also would be applied to them – and sooner rather than later.

The time is now, if you take compliance consultant Jeff Davis of Fleet Safety Services at his word. One of the principle things that came out of the training of those federal quick-strike teams, Davis says, is agency appreciation of the use of “Enhanced Investigative Techniques,” or EIT in the parlance of acronym-happy bureaucratese. At the National Association of Small Trucking Companies‘ annual meeting last month, Davis noted you might think of them in the context of another EIT, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques — “CR waterboarding,” he joked, using the abbrevation for “compliance review.” Bottom line: FMCSA is “changing the way they’re doing audits throughout the U.S.,” Davis said.