Following months of planning and delays, the FMCSA finally launched the most important component of CSA in 2010, the Safety Measurement System (SMS) site. The SMS framework replaces its predecessor, Safestat.
If you’re an independent owner-operator or contractor in the transportation industry, that brings up the question: Have you examined your safety record? You probably should, since CSA will change the way your company is monitored for compliance. Under CSA, safety ratings of transporters will be updated on a monthly basis. That’s a huge change— in the past, safety data was only updated whenever an inspection took place. To check your SMS safety rating, simply enter your DOT or MC number on theFMCSA site.
There’s a lot of confusion in the trucking world about how CSA and the SMS expand federal regulations and the scale of oversight in the industry. The truth, however, is that CSA does not introduce new regulations or initiate some drastic industry change.
Some companies are even capitalizing on the confusion by marketing “CSA 2010 Scorecards” to carriers as the program gears up. But FMCSA does not provide driver violation histories to private companies, and won’t validate vendor scorecards or data.
Drivers: Check Your Commercial Driving Record
So, if you’re a small carrier with no compliance issues, there’s no need to enlist outside help for CSA. But before CSA is fully implemented, it’s a good idea to check your commercial driving record for any errors or inconsistencies, since this could affect your Safety Fitness Determination later on.
How Do I Access My Commercial Driving Record?
At the federal level, there are two ways to find out exactly what’s on your record.
Access your driving record through the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), which allows carriers and drivers to purchase records for a small fee. For drivers, the fee is $10 and you’ll have immediate access to your data.
Submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the FMCSA, free of charge. Obviously, there’s a bit more bureaucracy involved in a FOIA request, and it could take up to 20 business days to process.
What’s on a Commercial Driving Record?
The PSP contains data from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database. This includes inspection and crash information that is uploaded into the system by federal and state authorities, going back five years for crash data and three years for roadside inspection data. The federal record does not include conviction data, local violations or personal driving record data.
And if you’re a carrier that is looking to hire new drivers, keep in mind that carriers do not inherit any of a newly hired driver’s past violations—and that won’t change for CSA.
What if I Find an Error in My Record?
If you find something in your commercial driver data that is incorrect or outdated, submit a challenge through the FMCSA’s DataQs system.
Keep in mind that potential carriers/employers can’t access your driving data unless you consent to its release. But with CSA around the corner, it’s important to take due diligence to avoid compliance issues later on.
How do I access Safety Ratings?
Safety ratings for carriers and trucking companies are currently very easy to find. The FMCSA operates an online Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System that publishes public data about all DOT-registered transporters.
You can also use SAFER’s Company Snapshot search tool to look up carriers that aren’t on uShip.