The FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability initiative (CSA) has been live for nearly a year, but many questions still remain. Several truckers and small trucking company owners have called me and expressed concern about clean DOT Inspections that don’t generate a CSA report — which means the clean inspection doesn’t show up on the carrier’s SMS Score. A good, clean DOT Level Three inspection and above is very important for a carrier and truckers to keep their scores down, and when an inspector doesn’t generate a clean report, the scores can be skewed.
For trucking companies to stay on top of their scores, you have to know which inspections are CSA relative and which aren’t. Not all Inspections will generate a CSA Report. For instance, Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement and local inspections, which aren’t done by a DOT FMCSA-Certified Inspector, will not generate a report, clean or otherwise.
So, what generates a report?
The inspection must be Level Three or higher, where the inspector verifies:
- Truck registration, DOT Number, and Insurance, and
- The driver’s CDL, Medical Card and Logbook
Unsure about what level inspection occurred? The best way to find out is to ask the inspector: “Is this an FMCSA Inspection and will the results be reported to the Motor Carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS)?”
Additionally, trucking companies should ensure drivers collect the following information on any inspection, regardless of whether it’s a Homeland Security, DEA or an Actual FMCSA-designated inspection:
- Inspector’s name
With this information, you have developed a trail that can be followed, if needed.
Why is it important to develop an Inspection Trail that can be followed?
If the inspection is clean (no violations or warnings), having it show up on your SMS Score as a “No Violation Inspection” is extremely important, because it helps lower a carrier’s overall SMS score.
Is there a way for a trucker or carrier to handle this that would make sure a No Violation Inspection is correctly reported on the carrier’s SMS?
In a recent conversation, an FMCSA official told me collecting all inspection reports is very important to the FMCSA; the “No Violation Inspection” reports are as important to their stats as the violation reports.
To help ensure these reports are created, when a trucker has a clean DOT Level Three or higher Inspection, he should:
- First politely ask the inspector to be sure to generate a clean inspection report so it’s recorded by the FMCSA.
- Ask for a copy of the report.
- Record the date, time, location, and inspector’s name.
If the inspector refuses to provide a copy of the report — and the inspection report does not show up on the carrier’s SMS rating within 60 days — the trucker or his carrier needs to generate a DATAQ request and direct it to the FMCSA Division Administrator in the state in which the inspection occurred. You can find the name and contact information for each state’s Division Administrators on the FMCSA website
A DATAQ request will not get clean report generated, but it does alert the state’s FMCSA Division Administrator to the problem and allows him/her to target his training to the correct inspectors.
Although I wasn’t told to do so, I would also follow the DATAQ request with a phone call to that state’s Division Administrator, outlining that a Clean Inspection by Inspector ___________ on __________(date), __________ (time) and in ______________ (location) wasn’t recorded.
Again, I need to stress: the DATAQ and call to the Division Administrator will not place the “No Violation Inspection” on the carrier’s SMS report. But from the calls I‘ve received from several carriers, this non-reporting of No Violation Inspections is a major problem in several states. The only way to have it corrected for future inspections is for the FMCSA’s Division Administrator for that state to know where this is happening and who’s not generating the necessary reports. And the only way the Division Administrator can get this information is from the carrier. So, for now, moving toward better reporting means we all have to be the squeaky wheel and make sure the FMCSA knows when clean reports are missed.
Good loads and good roads, everyone.