The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is testing a new approach to screening new entrants into the business, in hopes of saving money and improving efficiency.

Photo: Evan Lockridge

Photo: Evan Lockridge

In July the agency began a year-long test of a pre-screening process designed to identify high-risk applicants that need an on-site safety review and give low-risk applicants a way to file their information electronically.

The agency used to have 18 months to audit all new entrants but under the transportation law passed by Congress last year it must conduct the audits within a year.

The agency said it does more than 34,000 new-entrant audits each year, a number that has increased each year over the past three and is expected to continue growing.

It has completed between 87% and 92% of the audits on time over the last several years, and between 65% and 74% of the applicants have passed their audits, the agency said.

In the test, which is being conducted in five states and five Canadian provinces, certain carriers are automatically targeted for on-site inspections, while others have the opportunity to electronically submit information about their safety programs.

Targeted companies include passenger carriers, carriers that have hazmat violations at roadside inspections and carriers with one or more CSA scores above the intervention threshold. Also targeted are new entrants that have violated rules covering licensing, out-of-service orders, hazmats and drugs and alcohol.

New entrants that clear this screening are being sent letters explaining that they can submit their information to a safety audit website.

If the carrier has an adequate safety management program, the agency will skip the onsite safety audit. If it doesn’t, the agency will schedule an onsite audit. If it doesn’t respond, the agency can revoke its registration.

The test is being conducted in California, Florida, Illinois, Montana and New York. Agency staff in Montana and New York are using the procedures for Canadian carriers based in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

Details are in Wednesday’s Federal Register.