Wednesday, May 27, 2020

FMCSA to employ remote compliance reviews during health crisis

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is turning to remote safety compliance reviews because of COVID-19 health risks and restrictions. In a guidance issued May 20, the agency said its officers will conduct compliance reviews under 49 CFR part 385 “leveraging all available technology” to access information and records to limit exposure risk for the regulated community and safety investigators.

“Because of travel restrictions, social distancing, and other advisories associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency, and the desire to limit exposure risk to the regulated community and safety investigators, FMCSA will conduct compliance reviews of motor carriers and assign safety ratings even if those compliance reviews do not include an ‘on-site’ component,” the agency said.

FMCSA has determined that because safety investigators are able to follow all of the procedures in 49 CFR part 385 without physically visiting the motor carrier’s business premise, compliance reviews that do not include an “on-site” component will limit exposure risk to COVID-19, consistent with current regulations, without compromising FMCSA’s safety mission.

The agency will use the same standards otherwise applicable to assign safety ratings following a compliance review even if no on-site review activities have taken place and will continue to apply the procedures in 49 CFR part 385, including the Safety Fitness Rating Methodology (SFRM) in Appendix B, prior to assigning a safety rating.

This guidance does not apply to compliance reviews conducted under 49 CFR part 385, subpart B.

Motor carriers may access and transmit their information through a portal directly with FMCSA
and upload documents in a secure environment. Many motor carriers maintain their records
electronically and prefer to submit the records directly, from the electronic application where
they are stored.

Motor carriers may also fax or email documents to FMCSA if they so choose, or if they cannot access the portal. FMCSA may also use email and telephone and video calls as a substitute for in-person interaction with motor carrier officials during the compliance review or to review the findings of the compliance review with company officials during the closeout.

The guidance is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the revocation of the Presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency.