It’s a common misconception that the Safety Measurement System (SMS) managed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not record inspections that contain no violations. This is not true. According to th FMCSA’s own data, approximately 3.5 million inspections take place each year. Although around one-third of these contain no violations, safety inspectors still upload them to the FMCSA database. This is important because every inspection with no violation helps to improve the motor carrier’s percentile rank in the SMS.
Cursory Checks vs. Safety Inspections
Commercial drivers and motor carriers should understand that not every stop by law enforcement means the vehicle and driver are under inspection. Sometimes police officers perform what they refer to as a pre-inspection screening. The results of the pre-inspection help them decide if either the driver or the vehicle require a closer look by law enforcement personnel.
The officer who stops the commercial truck will generally perform a cursory check instead of a more detailed safety inspection. When this occurs, he or she does not upload a report and submit it to the FMCSA. If you feel confused about why the officer stopped you, be sure to ask for clarification. You have the right to receive a copy of the inspection report if one has indeed taken place.
Three options for viewing inspection reports with or without violations.
Your choices for viewing a duplicate electronic copy of your inspection reports remain the same whether they contained violations or not. These include:
- FMCSA Portal: You will need to register for an account if you have not already done so. Once you have completed that step, you will need a user ID and password to log into the system.
- Safety Measurement System website: Navigate to the bottom of the page and select Order Your Safety Record. Drivers and motor carriers can also select the appropriate link for their education or resource center.
- Safety and Fitness Electronic Record System (SAFER) website: You can search for your driver record, including past inspection reports, by entering the number issued to you by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), MC or MX number, or name. Keep in mind the last method may not be efficient if you have a common last name.
Receiving inspection reports with no violations should always be the goal. Not only does it make you a safer driver, it also increases your credibility with the FMCSA. That means your name will not be on its radar for intervention efforts that can range from a warning all the way to an out of service order.
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