ETA - Safety Fitness Procedures (Part 385)
|NOTE: Please do not use this guide as a substitute for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The guide is currently being revised and continues to change as regulations are published, updated, etc. You should consult the FMCSRs, which are updated quarterly online.|
A motor carrier receives a safety rating when the safety specialist conducts an on-site review of the carrier's compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Hazardous Materials Regulations. The specialist reviews records, evaluates roadside vehicle inspection data, and accidents to determine whether a motor carrier meets Section 385.5 Safety Fitness standard. Only qualified safety auditors, safety investigators, and safety inspectors may conduct compliance reviews, safety audits, and roadside inspections.
A compliance review is an on-site examination of the motor carrier's records and operations to determine whether the carrier meets the safety fitness standard. The review may include an examination of the following aspects of the motor carrier's operations:
Alcohol and controlled substance testing
- Driver's hours of service
- Driver qualification
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance
- Financial responsibility
- Hazardous materials
- Other safety and transportation records
- Roadside vehicle out-of-service rate.
A compliance review is conducted to investigate potential safety violations, to investigate complaints, or is in response to a carrier's request for a change in safety rating. The results of the compliance review may result in the initiation of an enforcement action.
The safety ratings are:
Satisfactory: A motor carrier has in place and functioning adequate safety manage- ment controls to meet the safety fitness standard prescribed in Section 385.5. Safety management controls are adequate if they are appropriate for the size and type of operation of the particular motor carrier.
- Conditional: A motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard that could result in the occurrences listed in Section 385.5(a) through (h).
- Unsatisfactory: A motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standards which has resulted in occurrences listed in Section 385.5(a) through (h). Motor carriers receiving an "unsatisfactory safety rating" may be subject to the provisions of Section 385.13.
The motor carrier will receive written notice of the safety rating.
A motor carrier transporting placardable quantities of hazardous materials, or operating a vehicle designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver that has received an "unsatisfactory" safety rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will have 45 calendar days from the effective date of that rating, or from the date of the notice, whichever is later, to improve the safety rating to "conditional" or "satisfactory." Other motor carriers that have received an "unsatisfactory" safety rating will have 60 days to improve the safety rating to "conditional" or "satisfactory." If this improvement does not occur, the carrier is prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles. Also, a motor carrier with an "unsatisfactory" safety rating is ineligible to contract or subcontract transportation services with Federal agencies.
Safety fitness standard
The satisfactory safety rating is based on the degree of compliance with the safety fitness standard for motor carriers. To meet the safety fitness standard, the motor carrier shall demonstrate that it has adequate safety management controls in place that function effectively to ensure acceptable compliance with applicable safety requirements to reduce the risk associated with:
Alcohol and controlled substance testing violations (Part 382)
- Commercial driver's license standard violations (Part 383)
- Inadequate levels of financial responsibility (Part 387)
- The use of unqualified drivers (Part 391)
- Improper use and driving of motor vehicles (Part 392)
- Unsafe vehicles operating on the highways (Part 393)
- Failure to maintain accident registers and copies of accident reports (Part 390)
- The use of fatigued drivers (Part 395)
- Inadequate inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles (Part 396)
- Transportation of hazardous materials, driving and parking rule violations (Part 397)
- Violation of hazardous materials regulations (Parts 170 through 177)
- Motor vehicle accidents and hazardous materials incidents.
Request for a change in a safety rating; facts and procedure
A petition for review of a safety rating, where there are factual or procedural disputes, must list all issues in dispute and be accompanied by any information or documents the motor carrier is relying upon as the basis for its petition.
Request for a change in a safety rating; corrective action taken (Section 385.17)
A request for a change in a safety rating may be made when the basis for the change is evidence that corrective actions have been taken, and that operations currently meet the safety fitness standard specified in Part 385.5.
A motor carrier who violates the FMCSRs may be subject to civil penalties. Motor carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders failing to pay civil penalties imposed by the FMCSA within 90 days may be prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.
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