This blog article is brought to you by Western Cascade's friends at Transportation Safety Services.
In December 2014, FMCSA announced that a DVIR would no longer be required for each day a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is operated, but only for days in which a mechanical defect was detected by the driver or reported to the driver. Many in the trucking industry viewed this as a good thing, and an actual reduction in paperwork. We at TSS have been warning clients that eventually FMCSA would find a way to use this act of "de-regulation" in a way that actually hurts the motor carrier. They have now changed the DOT audit protocols in a way that makes it much easier for them to cite a carrier for a Critical violation (the type violation that can actually rob you of an existing Satisfactory safety rating). Below is an example of how this happens.
There are sampling guidelines for FMCSA that tell them how many documents of a certain type they can audit during a DOT audit. For instance, the DVIR sampling for a motor carrier that employs between 51 and 90 drivers is 13 drivers for 30 days, 390 documents. Prior to the December 2014 change, the number of DVIRs checked in this carrier's audit would be 390. The auditor would need to find 39 or more missing in order to cite the carrier for a Critical violation. That has now changed.
Under the new procedures, the auditor now looks at the 13 most recent Level 1 or 2 roadside inspections in which a mechanical defect was cited on a roadside inspection. Then, they ask the carrier for the 13 DVIRs for those same days. In my example, let's say that the drivers submitted 11 of these to the carrier, only failing to submit 2. Under the old sampling method, this cite would be "Failing to submit 2 of 390 required DVIRs," a violation rate of only one-half a percent. This would have been an excellent performance by the drivers and motor carrier that would not do damage to the safety rating because it does not meet the Critical rate of 10%. However, under the new methodology, this cite would be "Failing to submit 2 of 13 required DVIRs," a violation rate of 15%, thus a Critical violation that can damage the safety rating, and would lead to fines.
For a carrier with three or more CSA Alerts or only one Alert, but it is in Vehicle Maintenance, we strongly suggest that you go back at least two months and ensure you have a DVIR for each day a roadside inspection noted mechanical defects. You will also need to make sure there is a DVIR for every day the vehicle is operated after that roadside inspection, before the defects have been documented as repaired.
Just remember that everyone that tries to help you is not your friend.