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Compliance Reviews and/or Investigations are an on-site examination of motor carrier’s operation to determine whether a motor carrier is compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, meets the safety fitness standard (49 CFR 385.5), and the Hazardous Material Regulations, if applicable. An investigation may be initiated based on: the motor carrier’s safety performance records indicating a possible issue with their safety management controls, investigation of potential violations of safety regulations by either the motor carrier, their employees and/or driver’s, or to investigate complaints. The investigation will consist of examining the motor carrier’s transportation and safety records including, but not limited to, special training requirements, controlled substance and alcohol program, commercial driver license records, financial responsibility, general regulations, driving of commercial motor vehicles, required parts and accessories for safe operation, hours of service, inspection and maintenance of commercial motor vehicles, and transportation of hazardous materials.
The Compliance Reviews or Investigation may result in a safety rating being assigned to the motor carrier depending on the violations, found or not found, and the type of investigation being conducted. The Compliance Review or Investigation may also result in the initiation of an enforcement action against the motor carrier, drivers and/or other motor carrier employees.
Comprehensive – A comprehensive review or investigation is a complete review of all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that are applicable to the motor carrier. This type of review or investigation results in a safety rating assigned to the motor carrier.
Focused – A focused review or investigation is focused on the areas of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that are identified on the motor carrier’s safety performance records as potential problem areas or a potential problem with certain drivers employed by the motor carrier. A review or investigation that begins as focused could, based on violations found, switch to comprehensive. A focused review may or may not result in a safety rating assigned to the motor carrier.
Safety Investigators with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or Oklahoma Highway Patrol State Troopers, who are certified by FMCSA, will conduct the Compliance Review or Investigation. FMCSA and OHP partner together in order to ensure Oklahoma based motor carriers are compliant with all applicable regulations and laws.
The Compliance Review or Investigation will be conducted at the motor carrier’s principle place of business, Monday through Friday during business hours. There are a few exceptions to when and where the review or investigation occurs but the PPOB is the primary location used.
The motor carrier could be contacted by enforcement personnel in several different ways such as: in person at the PPOB, telephone, email, fax, or mail (USPS, FedEx or UPS). Once contacted, the motor carrier will be notified of the date, time and location for the start of the review or investigation.
At the time of initial contact with the motor carrier, the investigator will provide instructions on preparing for the investigation. These instructions are usually contained in either a written letter or email so that the motor carrier can refer to the information as they prepare. It is important the motor carrier complies with all instructions provided such as providing certain documents and/or information prior to the start of the investigation.
No, the motor carrier is required to provide FMCSA and certified OHP personnel access to inspect and copy all records related to the motor carrier’s operation, and/or inspect and examine equipment, lands, buildings and other property upon demand. If the carrier refuses, enforcement action will be initiated to include, but not limited to, civil penalties and/or placed under an Out-of-Service order.
Safety ratings may or may not be assigned to the motor carrier based on the type of review or investigation. Comprehensive reviews or investigations will result in a safety rating. Focused reviews or investigations may result in a non-rated review or conditional rating. The motor carrier will not receive a satisfactory rating from a focused review and if a focused review indicates the motor carrier would be rated as unsatisfactory, the review or investigation will switch to comprehensive.
Ratings listed on the Compliance Review or Investigation report and provide during closeout is a proposed rating. The rating becomes final after 60 days for motor carriers of property and 45 days for motor carriers of passengers or hazardous materials. The safety rating, other than satisfactory, does not take effect until final rating issued on the 61st or 46th day depending on the cargo hauled as mentioned above. The satisfactory rating usually become final once the review or investigation report is uploaded and approved by FMCSA
Satisfactory – This rating is only assigned to a motor carrier after a comprehensive review or investigation. This rating means the motor carrier has adequate safety management controls in place to meet the safety fitness standard as prescribed in 49 CFR 385.5. Safety management controls are adequate if they are appropriate for the size and type of operation of the motor carrier.
Conditional - This rating could be assigned to a motor carrier after a comprehensive or focused review or investigation. This rating means the motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to meet the safety fitness standard as prescribed in 49 CFR 385.5.
Unsatisfactory – This rating is only assigned to a motor carrier after a comprehensive review or investigation. If the review or investigation began as focused it will switch to comprehensive in order to assess the motor carrier’s entire operation before assigning this rating. This rating means the motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to meet the safety fitness standard as prescribed in 49 CFR 385.5. If this rating becomes final, the motor carrier will be under a Federal Out-of-Service order until the safety rating is upgraded.
Non-Rated review or investigation – This is noted after focused reviews or investigations that are unable to determine, based on the areas examined, if the motor carrier has adequate safety management controls in place to meet the safety fitness standard as prescribed in 49 CFR 385.5. Due to the focused nature of the review or investigation, the motor carrier cannot be issued a safety rating. If the motor carrier has a previous safety rating assigned, a non-rated review or investigation will not change the safety rating already issued to the motor carrier.
Unrated carrier – An unrated motor carrier means that a safety rating has not been assigned to the motor carrier.
If the carrier believes an error was made when assigning its proposed safety rating they may request an administrative review which is explained in 49 CFR 385.15.
A motor carrier that has been issued a proposed or final rating of Conditional or Unsatisfactory may request an upgrade based on corrective action. The motor carrier will need to submit their written corrective action plan along with evidence showing the plan has been implemented and has corrected the violation to the appropriate FMCSA Service Center. Oklahoma based motor carriers will need to submit their corrective action plan and all documentation the carrier wishes FMCSA to consider to the FMCSA Service Center in Atlanta, GA. For more information please refer to 49 CFR 395.17. If the motor carrier has also submitted a request for administrative review under 49 CFR 385.15, FMCSA will not consider the upgrade request until the administrative review request is resolved.
Motor carriers may not register for a new USDOT number to: avoid complying with an FMCSA order, avoid complying with statutory or regulatory requirements, avoid paying a civil penalty, avoid responding to an enforcement action, or avoid being linked with a negative compliance history to include masking or otherwise concealing regulatory non-compliance. Reincarnated is defined as motor carriers with common ownership, common management, common control or common familial relationship. If a motor carrier is found to be reincarnated, the motor carrier’s USDOT registration will be suspended. Please refer to 49 CFR 385.1001+ (Subpart L if you're referencing the printed regulation book) for more information.
A motor carrier, its agents, officers, representatives, or employees shall not make, cause to make or provide false information regarding any record, report, application or certificate required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The motor carrier, its agents, representatives, or employees found in violation could face civil and/or criminal actions.