Fuel Smarts

E-Government: FMCSA Puts Paperwork, Information on the Internet

January 03, 2001

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Curious about a trucking company’s safety record? Want to apply for federal operating authority? Need to make sure a broker is licensed? You can do it all online via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s e-business safety system.

The system was recently recognized by the President’s Management Council, made up of chief operating officers of the cabinet agencies, as the leading example of e-business in the Department of Transportation. Its major objective is to provide fast, easy information and customer service to the industry and the public.
FMCSA e-services are divided into three parts: on-line transactions via Do-It-Yourself, license and insurance information via L&I, and safety analysis via A&I and SAFER.
Do-It-Yourself (http://diy.dot.gov) allows trucking companies and owner-operators apply for operating authority and pay fines via the Internet. DIY can also be used to obtain licensing and insurance histories, submit proof of insurance, and make a name or address change. Soon, carriers will be able to submit their MCS-150 registrations online.
FMCSA says DIY has significantly improved its efficiency since the system was introduced a year ago. A total of 20,000 forms are processed monthly, about twice the number that can be processed by hand. Estimated cost savings: about $2 million annually.
License and insurance information (http://fhwa-li.volpe.dot.gov/) supplements DIY by receiving on-line filings of updated motor carrier information such as licenses and insurance. Users can get a list of authorized for-hire motor carriers and licensing information on freight forwarders and property brokers.
Truck and bus safety information includes two web sites. Analysis and Information Online is available at the ai.volpe.dot.gov site or FMCSA’s home page, www.fmcsa.dot.gov. It offers national and state crash data as well as safety information about individual companies.
SAFER (www.safersys.org) provides a quick snapshot of a motor carrier's status. FMCSA says the site serves over a million page hits per month. Insurance companies use it to assess a carrier’s safety performance. Carriers use SAFER to compare their own safety record to the records of their industry peers. Shippers use it to help select safe carriers. FMCSA and state safety enforcement personnel use it to help evaluate carrier safety.
While some carriers may not like the idea of having their safety performance posted on the internet, FMCSA emphasizes its benefits. E-screening allows safe carriers to bypass roadside inspections at mainline speeds, the agency notes. That increases productivity of safe and legal trucking companies and allows FMCSA to focus its resources on high-risk operators.

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