The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for making sure that commercial trucks and drivers are safe enough to be on America’s highways. To protect the public, the FMCSA completes regular inspections of equipment, driver log books, records of violations, and more. If your business is found to have a violation, the FMCSA will then notify the motor carrier of violations by mail in the form of a warning letter.
Think of the warning letter as an opportunity to improve.
An FMCSA warning letter solely explains the violation and gives you the opportunity to improve it on your own without any input from the Administration. A warning letter does not yet mean that you face dire consequences. It more so means that your violation is not yet considered severe enough to require the FMCSA to get involved and force correction. Consider the warning letter as a chance to address your violation before the matter becomes more serious for the association. Be sure to read the letter to understand what the violation is and how the agency learned of it.
In most cases, the FMCSA discovers violations by reviewing data from a Safety Measurement System (SMS). So, the letter will inform you how to request your SMS, the details of the violation, and potential consequences for not improving safety and performance.
The importance of self-monitoring.
The FMCSA does not require a response to warning letters. However, it does encourage regular monitoring of your SMS to allow you to self-correct any issue before it becomes a violation. The agency will continue to monitor your safety and performance as well. They may even intervene via additional onsite and offsite inspections if your SMS does not demonstrate improvement. Failure to show improvement could result in a fine or your company temporarily losing its operating authority.
Understand the BASICs
You can check your company’s safety data online at the FMCSA website. The agency updates data monthly to include reports of crashes from the past two years, results of investigations, driver and vehicle violations, and roadside inspections. The information from each company’s data goes into one of seven categories of the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) score. The categories include Crash Indicator, Controlled Substances and Alcohol, Driver Fitness, Hazardous Materials Compliance, Hours of Service Compliance, Unsafe Driving, and Vehicle Maintenance.
The FMCSA also provides a resource called Roadsmart, which outlines the criteria that safety administrators use when completing an inspection. You can use this same information to evaluate your own safety and performance on a regular basis and make improvements as needed.
Be Sure You Have the Right Types and Amounts of Truck Insurance Coverage
With the random inspections and dozens of safety standards you must meet, your career as a commercial trucker can be as stressful as it is rewarding. Adding to that is the fact that you must know the types of insurance policies the FMCSA requires you to have and that these types of trucking safety scores can affect your insurance rates.
Our commercial trucking insurance specialists are here to help you find the perfect insurance fit for your business and to help you comply with all of the necessary industry regulations. To start getting your customized insurance quotes, just fill out our online form or give us a call today.