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What New Entrants need to know about safety audits

If you are a New Entrant, you have to go through a safety audit within the first year of operation. But what exactly is that, and what does it mean? What happens during the audit? What violations could cause an automatic failure of the audit? And what happens if you pass your audit – or if you fail your audit? We’ll answer those questions so you know what to expect from safety audits. 

What do new entrants need to know about safety audits?

What is a safety audit? 

To put it simply, a safety audit is when a motor carrier’s record is checked over to make sure they have the proper safety measures in place. It’s a way of making sure that the carrier is complying with relevant FMCSRs, Hazardous Materials Regulations, and record-keeping requirements. The safety audit is really important, so you need to make sure that you have everything ready. 

How does a Safety Audit happen? 

The safety audit can take place either at the carrier’s business when an FMCSA-certified auditor visits or electronically when documents are submitted to the FMCSA online, through the mail, or by fax. (The FMCSA will let the carrier know what type of audit they’re in for either by phone or mail.) During the audit, the carrier will be asked to send in documentation that verifies that they have the appropriate safety measures in place. The auditor might request the documents related to the carrier’s drivers or vehicles, operating procedures, and record-keeping. 

(Once the safety audit is complete, the auditor will review the findings with the carrier, and within 45 days, the FMCSA will let the carrier know whether they’ve passed or failed.)

MVR checks

What violations cause an automatic failure? 

There are several violations that cause an automatic failure in safety audits. There are several different categories:  

  • Drug and alcohol violations.
    • No alcohol/controlled substances testing program
    • No random alcohol/controlled substances testing program
    • Driver who refused a required alcohol or controlled substances test
    • Using driver known to have alcohol calculation of .04 or greater
    • Using driver who tested positive or altered or substituted a test for controlled substances
  • Driver violations
    • No valid CDL
    • Using disqualified driver
    • Using driver with revoked, suspended, or cancelled CDL
    • Using medically unqualified driver
  • Operator violation
    • Operating a motor vehicle without the proper insurance
    • Not requiring hours of service records 
  • Repairs or inspection violations
    • Operating a vehicle declared OOS for safety deficiencies before repairs are made
    • Not doing OOS repairs reported in the driver vehicle inspection reports
    • Operating a vehicle that has not been inspected annually 

What happens after passing the safety audit? 

You also have to know what happens when a motor carrier passes the safety audit. The performance of your motor carrier will still be monitored for the duration of the 18-month period. If there aren’t any safety problems, the carrier will be given permanent operating authority. And then, the carrier will still be monitored under the CSA

What happens if you fail the safety audit? 

If you fail the safety audit, the FMCSA will provide the carrier with documentation that outlines the violations that caused the carrier to fail. It’ll also show the requirements for creating a corrective action plan. The corrective action plan needs to explain the actions the carrier will take to address the violations. The CAP has to be submitted to the FMCSA service center within the deadline given on the notification of failure. And if the CAP isn’t submitted, or if the corrective actions aren’t taken, FMCSA registration will be lost. 

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