The Newly Proposed FMCSA SFD Regulations: New Ways to Fail


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The Newly Proposed FMCSA Safety Fitness Determination Regulations:   New Ways to Fail

Part 2 of our 10 part blog series


Thursday, 1/21/2016 marked the beginning of the 60-day comment period for the proposed FMCSA regulations regarding the new safety Fitness determination. These new regulations will dramatically change the trucking industry in America as fleets continue to struggle with complying with the current CSA regulations.


After spending the majority of last weekend reading the entire 267 page report that the federal government released, one thing was very clear: The FMCSA is no longer playing softball when it comes to regulatory enforcement!


Previously, a motor carrier would only receive a Safety Fitness Determination after a comprehensive on-site investigation of the motor carrier’s operations.


This type of investigation would only follow one of three possible events:


  1. The FMCSA receives a complaint that the motor carrier is substantially violating federal regulations.


  1. The motor carrier is involved in a crash and the crash report suggests that the motor carrier has substantially violated federal regulations.


  1. The Safety Measurement System shows that the motor carrier meets or exceeds a predetermined intervention threshold.


In other words, if the motor carrier catches the attention of the FMCSA regulators in one of these three negative ways, then they can expect a visit from a friendly federal or state officer to ensure that everything is up to par on the compliance side of the house.


If, and only if, the result of a full “Comprehensive Evaluation” showed that the motor carrier was not in compliance with the federal regulations would a safety fitness determination be determined.


Fortunately or unfortunately, the FMCSA and their State regulatory partners simply don’t have the manpower to do a substantial number of Comprehensive Evaluations, and this is one major reason for the proposed changes.


Under the newly proposed regulations, that would change in a very dramatic way. The FMCSA is now proposing that they will be able to declare that a motor carrier is unfit to operate by:


  1. Failing 2 or more BASIC categories SOLELY as the result of that motor carrier’s roadside inspections.
  2. The results of an Off-site Focused intervention audit
  3. The results of an onsite Focused intervention audit
  4. The results of an onsite Comprehensive intervention audit

Roadside Inspection

A link to the FMCSA’s complete current intervention process can be found here:


FMCSA’s Intervention Process


Per the FMCSA, here is what each of these three interventions entail:


Offsite Investigation – A carrier is required to submit documents to FMCSA or a State Partner. These documents are used to evaluate the safety problems identified through the SMS and to determine their root causes. Types of documents requested may include third-party documents such as toll receipts, border crossing records, or drug testing records.


Onsite Focused Investigation – The purpose of this intervention is to evaluate the safety problems identified through the SMS and their root causes. An onsite focused investigation may be selected when alerts in one or two BASICs exist. Onsite “focused” investigations target specific problem areas (for example, maintenance records), while onsite “comprehensive” investigations address all aspects of the carrier’s operation.


Onsite Comprehensive Investigation – This intervention is similar to a focused investigation and takes place at the carrier’s place of business. It is used when the carrier exhibits broad and complex safety problems through continually alerted BASICs, worsening multiple BASICs (three or more), or a fatal crash or complaint.


The FMCSA estimates that, under this new model,  they will be able to directly review over  75,000 carriers each year as opposed to the 15,000 or so carriers that it currently reaches.  


In the next installment, we will be discussing the CSA BASIC Categories and how those will be changing!


If you like what you’re reading, you’re going to love our upcoming webinar on the topics!


The webinar will be held on February 2, 2016 at 2:00pm EST.


My Safety Manager community members attend for free.

All other attendees can attend for only $5!

Please sign up here!


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Carrier Risk Solutions, Inc.