49 CFR Appendix A to Part 385 - Explanation of Safety Audit Evaluation Criteria
(a) Section 210 of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (49 U.S.C. 31144) directed the Secretary to establish a procedure whereby each owner and each operator granted new authority must undergo a safety review within 12 months after receipt of its US DOT number for motor carriers of property and 120 days for motor carriers of passengers. The Secretary was also required to establish the elements of this safety review, including basic safety management controls. The Secretary, in turn, delegated this to the FMCSA.
(b) To meet the safety standard, a motor carrier must demonstrate to the FMCSA that it has basic safety management controls in place which function adequately to ensure minimum acceptable compliance with the applicable safety requirements. A “safety audit evaluation criteria” was developed by the FMCSA, which uses data from the safety audit and roadside inspections to determine that each owner and each operator applicant for new entrant registration, provisional operating authority, or provisional Certificate of Registration has basic safety management controls in place. The term “safety audit” is the equivalent to the “safety review” required by Sec. 210. Using “safety audit” avoids any possible confusion with the safety reviews previously conducted by the agency that were discontinued on September 30, 1994.
(c) The safety audit evaluation process developed by the FMCSA is used to:
1. Evaluate basic safety management controls and determine if each owner and each operator is able to operate safely in interstate commerce; and
2. Identify owners and operators who are having safety problems and need improvement in their compliance with the FMCSRs and the HMRs, before they are granted permanent registration.
(a) The FMCSA's evaluation criteria are built upon the operational tool known as the safety audit. This tool was developed to assist auditors and investigators in assessing the adequacy of a new entrant's basic safety management controls.
(b) The safety audit is a review of a Mexico-domiciled or new entrant motor carrier's operation and is used to:
1. Determine if a carrier has the basic safety management controls required by 49 U.S.C. 31144;
2. Meet the requirements of Section 350 of the DOT Appropriations Act; and
3. In the event that a carrier is found not to be in compliance with applicable FMCSRs and HMRs, the safety audit can be used to educate the carrier on how to comply with U.S. safety rules.
(c) Documents such as those contained in the driver qualification files, records of duty status, vehicle maintenance records, and other records are reviewed for compliance with the FMCSRs and HMRs. Violations are cited on the safety audit. Performance-based information, when available, is utilized to evaluate the carrier's compliance with the vehicle regulations. Recordable accident information is also collected.
(a) During the safety audit, the FMCSA gathers information by reviewing a motor carrier's compliance with “acute” and “critical” regulations of the FMCSRs and HMRs.
(b) Acute regulations are those where noncompliance is so severe as to require immediate corrective actions by a motor carrier regardless of the overall basic safety management controls of the motor carrier.
(c) Critical regulations are those where noncompliance relates to management and/or operational controls. These are indicative of breakdowns in a carrier's management controls.
(d) The list of the acute and critical regulations, which are used in determining if a carrier has basic safety management controls in place, is included in Appendix B, VII. List of Acute and Critical Regulations.
(e) Noncompliance with acute and critical regulations are indicators of inadequate safety management controls and usually higher than average accident rates.
(f) Parts of the FMCSRs and the HMRs having similar characteristics are combined together into six regulatory areas called “factors.” The regulatory factors, evaluated on the basis of the adequacy of the carrier's safety management controls, are:
1. Factor 1 - General: Parts 387 and 390;
2. Factor 2 - Driver: Parts 382, 383 and 391;
3. Factor 3 - Operational: Parts 392 and 395;
4. Factor 4 - Vehicle: Part 393, 396 and inspection data for the last 12 months;
5. Factor 5 - Hazardous Materials: Parts 171, 177, 180 and 397; and
6. Factor 6 - Accident: Recordable Accident Rate per Million Miles.
(g) For each instance of noncompliance with an acute regulation, 1.5 points will be assessed.
(h) For each instance of noncompliance with a critical regulation, 1 point will be assessed.
(i) FMCSA also gathers information on compliance with applicable household goods and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requirements, but failure to comply with these requirements does not affect the determination of the adequacy of basic safety management controls.
(a) When at least three vehicle inspections are recorded in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) during the twelve months before the safety audit or performed at the time of the review, the Vehicle Factor (Part 396) will be evaluated on the basis of the Out-of-Service (OOS) rates and noncompliance with acute and critical regulations. The results of the review of the OOS rate will affect the Vehicle Factor as follows:
1. If the motor carrier has had at least three roadside inspections in the twelve months before the safety audit, and the vehicle OOS rate is 34 percent or higher, one point will be assessed against the carrier. That point will be added to any other points assessed for discovered noncompliance with acute and critical regulations of part 396 to determine the carrier's level of safety management control for that factor; and
2. If the motor carrier's vehicle OOS rate is less than 34 percent, or if there are less than three inspections, the determination of the carrier's level of safety management controls will only be based on discovered noncompliance with the acute and critical regulations of part 396.
(b) Over two million inspections occur on the roadside each year. This vehicle inspection information is retained in the MCMIS and is integral to evaluating motor carriers' ability to successfully maintain their vehicles, thus preventing them from being placed OOS during roadside inspections. Each safety audit will continue to have the requirements of part 396, Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance, reviewed as indicated by the above explanation.
(a) In addition to the five regulatory factors, a sixth factor is included in the process to address the accident history of the motor carrier. This factor is the recordable accident rate, which the carrier has experienced during the past 12 months. Recordable accident, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, means an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a public road in interstate or intrastate commerce which results in a fatality; a bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or one or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.
(b) Experience has shown that urban carriers, those motor carriers operating entirely within a radius of less than 100 air miles (normally urban areas), have a higher exposure to accident situations because of their environment and normally have higher accident rates.
(c) The recordable accident rate will be used in determining the carrier's basic safety management controls in Factor 6, Accident. It will be used only when a carrier incurs two or more recordable accidents within the 12 months before the safety audit. An urban carrier (a carrier operating entirely within a radius of 100 air miles) with a recordable rate per million miles greater than 1.7 will be deemed to have inadequate basic safety management controls for the accident factor. All other carriers with a recordable accident rate per million miles greater than 1.5 will be deemed to have inadequate basic safety management controls for the accident factor. The rates are the result of roughly doubling the national average accident rate in Fiscal Years 1994, 1995, and 1996.
(d) The FMCSA will continue to consider preventability when a new entrant contests the evaluation of the accident factor by presenting compelling evidence that the recordable rate is not a fair means of evaluating its accident factor. Preventability will be determined according to the following standard: “If a driver, who exercises normal judgment and foresight, could have foreseen the possibility of the accident that in fact occurred, and avoided it by taking steps within his/her control which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap, the accident was preventable.”
For Factors 1 through 5, if the combined violations of acute and or critical regulations for each factor is equal to three or more points, the carrier is determined not to have basic safety management controls for that individual factor.
If the recordable accident rate is greater than 1.7 recordable accidents per million miles for an urban carrier (1.5 for all other carriers), the carrier is determined to have inadequate basic safety management controls.
(a) If the carrier is evaluated as having inadequate basic safety management controls in at least three separate factors, the carrier will be considered to have inadequate safety management controls in place and corrective action will be necessary in order to avoid having its new entrant registration, provisional operating authority, or provisional Certificate of Registration revoked.
(b) For example, FMCSA evaluates a carrier finding:
(1) One instance of noncompliance with a critical regulation in part 387 scoring one point for Factor 1;
(2) Two instances of noncompliance with acute regulations in part 382 scoring three points for Factor 2;
(3) Three instances of noncompliance with critical regulations in part 396 scoring three points for Factor 4; and
(4) Three instances of noncompliance with acute regulations in parts 171 and 397 scoring four and one-half (4.5) points for Factor 5.
(c) In this example, the carrier scored three or more points for Factors 2, 4 and 5 and FMCSA determined the carrier had inadequate basic safety management controls in at least three separate factors. FMCSA will require corrective action in order to avoid having the carrier's new entrant registration revoked, or having the provisional operating authority or provisional Certificate of Registration suspended and possibly revoked.
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