Why Carriers and Drivers Need Help When Challenging Violations With The DataQ Process

Why Carriers and Drivers Need Help When Challenging Violations With The DataQ Process

In 2019, FMCSA data shows that nearly half of the 54,000 DataQs were filed for inspections/crashes assigned to the wrong carrier or driver (for example, duplicate records in the system).

While it is often said “knowledge is power”, really it is “understanding of the knowledge” that is real power.

Too many motor carriers do not have the time or resources to make sense of their CSA data and is the reason why fleets end up not knowing that non-preventable crashes are harming their CSA scores.

If you notice incorrect information in your PSP report or the CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS), the DataQ process is there to help companies and drivers fight and remove these records that could be keeping your scores or insurance rates high.

Read more: Understand Three Important Trucking Tools For Hiring and Roadside Inspections

FMCSA says thousands of incorrect information-type DataQs are corrected each year. Just imagine how many incorrect data is left unchecked and hurting your CSA scores right now.  

Why You Need Help With The DataQ System And Process

Violation challenges are the number one reason owner-operators utilize the DataQ system, but they are the least-successful category of challenge where only 39% were successfully changed, according to the FMCSA.

The problem with the DataQ process is that navigating the system can be challenging and dealing with state departments’ decisions that are often complex or end up as a single judgment call by the original inspecting officer can be frustrating.

Oftentimes, getting the DOT officer to admit they were wrong is half the battle, but it may take multiple appeals by the carrier to get an in-depth review.

Navigating the system itself can be one challenge, but the most common hurdle is gathering enough evidence to make a convincing case.

Before starting a DataQ process, challengers should make sure they have the officer’s report number for the record being challenged, a police accident report, and any other required or relevant evidence for the case.

Even with clear evidence, fixing errors in the system can be difficult and time consuming when a filing gets rejected.

That whole time, which can take months, the violation is in the CSA score system and damaging your CSA score, insurance rates, and ability to do business.

For crash-related information, only 43% of driver challenges were overturned while carrier service providers, like CNS, have nearly a 60% success rate.

While larger fleets may be able to afford hiring a compliance expert to manage the DataQ process, using a third party to organize a DataQ challenge, review your CSA scores, pull PSP reports, or manage compliance reviews will help you make sure your records are fair and accurate.

What can CNS do for me in the DataQ system?

Actively managing your safety measurement system (SMS) scores and PSP reports is crucial to the success of Motor Carriers.

As compliance experts, CNS staff are basically doing law enforcement’s job to prove they made a mistake.

We have built great rapport with the FMCSA challenging DataQ’s and have the experience and expertise to determine what can and cannot be challenged.

Our DOT Compliance Specialists are well-versed in the FMCSA rules and regulations, as well as what an officer is required to note on their report.

When filing a challenge, CNS can help you use language that shows intent to be thoughtful, clear, and concise in describing what the error is believed to be.

Whether you would like our DOT Specialists to challenge one DataQ or conduct a monthly analysis of all roadside violations to potentially challenge, we have a cost-effective solution for your company.

We can:

  • Request copies of an Inspection Report
  • Contest incorrect, multiple-listed, or missing IEP/shipper information
  • Contest citations with associated violation
  • Contest violations assigned to wrong motor carrier or driver
  • Identify issues, such as crash duplicates, missing records, or crash reports containing incorrect information
  • Establish a crash preventability program

Call one of our DOT Compliance Specialists at 888.260.9448 to discuss your options or you can request more information in the form below.

DataQ

Carriers Must Go Digital to Meet Future Off-Site Audit Expectations

Carriers Must Go Digital to Meet Future Off-Site Audit Expectations

The total number of DOT audits and off-site audits are expected to increase 50% in 2021, compared to last year.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its’ state partners have struggled to physically audit a significant number of motor carriers each year. This led them to develop the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and Safety Management System that evaluates the safety of the estimated 500,000 active motor carriers it regulates.

As this program continues to evolve, with the delayed Item Response Theory (IRT) approach to identifying at-risk carriers for intervention, the FMCSA has been experimenting with off-site audits for eligible new entrant motor carriers.

While the first operational test of these off-site audits began nearly a decade ago, there has finally been more off-site audits than on-site audits in 2020. While off-site audits were ramped up during the COVID pandemic, the last few years has seen significant trends and they will only continue to increase moving forward.

Off-Site audits rise as FMCSA expands off-site comprehensive reviews

Last year the FMCSA performed nearly 11,500 audits with 5,750 of them being performed off-site. As of the end of May 2021, they have already conducted close to 3,500 off-site reviews and approximately 4,000 on-site reviews over that same period. At this pace, the agency’s investigators are on track to perform nearly 8,500 off-site audits by the end of the year, and around 18,000 audits overall.

While off-site audits were reserved for less intensive circumstances, such as new entrant safety audits and focused reviews which involved a lower volume of paperwork, the off-site review process has become more streamlined and reliable. 

This has led to the FMCSA to publish a final rule last month that includes a path to rely more heavily on comprehensive off-site audits.

The amendments, by removing the word ‘on-site’ from the definitions of Compliance review and Roadability review in § 385.3, allows FMCSA and State personnel to conduct off-site compliance reviews of motor carriers following the same safety fitness determination criteria used in on-site compliance reviews.

How do you prepare for digital off-site reviews?

While one of the biggest benefits of off-site audits to both the FMCSA and carriers is the paperwork reduction, you need to be prepared to upload compliance documentation to the agency on short notice.

This includes your:

  • driver qualification,
  • drug and alcohol testing,
  • hours-of-service,
  • vehicle maintenance files,
  • proof of insurance,
  • accident register, and
  • other compliance documents.

In off-site audits, the FMCSA requires carriers to upload records through their Safety Measurement System account. This means that if you maintain hard copies of the requested records, you will first have to digitize them to transfer them to the investigator.

Large carriers and owner-operators alike should store these files electronically, instead of the traditional filing cabinet or paper binder, and keep them up to date and compliant.

As the FMCSA continues to rely more heavily on off-site audits, carriers need to adapt. This may mean having an outside representative perform a mock audit to reveal any DOT compliance gaps you may have.

The best tip we can provide carriers is to exceed, and not “just meet”, the DOT regulations.


Need Audit Help Now Or Want To Go Digital With DOT Compliance?

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At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM), a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

We offer several different program levels depending on the size of your organization, however our PSM Motor Carrier Program is the more common when considering affordability and the comprehensiveness of DOT compliance assistance.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • DOT audit support
  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

The Benefits To Fleets Being Proactive in DOT Safety Compliance

All fleets should be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to DOT compliance and safety management

Fleets that say they care about putting “safety first” but still struggle with safety issues often have passive safety strategies.

These strategies do not provide enough fleet safety data to know what is going or the data is collected after something happened.

As a carrier governed by FMCSA regulations, it is not good practice to wait until you get audited by the FMCSA, but rather to be ready at all times.

For this reason, passive safety programs are inadequate and can lead to increased fines and fleet risk, especially when it comes with DOT compliance and driver management.

According to FMCSA closed enforcement cases for the last five years, carriers’ average costs of non-compliance was settled for $7,000 per carrier! On top of this, it can cost a carrier an additional $870 of downtime when a driver was placed out-of-service for 10 hours.

Ensuring drivers are following FMCSA regulations and company policies can be overwhelming when trying to manage commercial driver licenses (CDLs), endorsements, physicals, daily vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) and training certificates manually.

This is where being proactive is key.

Proactive safety management means you and your company are working hard to be safe, compliant and stay ahead of the FMCSA.

 

Reasons to invest in a third-party proactive DOT compliance program

Regardless of what you haul or what industry your fleet is in, being proactive in safety management is crucial in keeping compliance fines and driver management costs low.

Your fleet should consider a third-party compliance partner if your company:

  • Is growing and you are trying to save money
  • Is trying to stay compliant with the FMCSA
  • Has grown and you need a Safety Director or a Safety Department, or
  • Wants to lower your CSA scores

Carriers being proactive will put them in a better position to mitigate risk, improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and spend more time with their drivers in an effort to manage a safe and compliant fleet. 

With proactive safety, carriers will be more organized and will have a measured plan to lower motor carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS) scores.

When partnering with a third-party program, your fleet has a team of experts that costs much less than hiring a safety director or team and can receive constant monitoring to keep your operation FMCSA compliant. Driver management will be simplified and the driver hiring process will shorten.

While data and paper management can be crucial, using a third-party partner will help you be prepared for audit representation, provide document storage, and offer up-to-date company policies and handbook of FMCSA rules and regulation changes.

Not only will proactive safety help your fleet with DOT compliance, but it is proven to lower insurance premiums as you will have documented ways to show a reduction in risk.

 

Are you ready to be proactive?

Our safety management programs are perfect for combining multiple services and can be tailored to fit your needs, whether you are a new owner operator or a seasoned trucker or business owner.

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM), a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.