If drivers quite literally drive your business, awareness of—and adherence to—Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations is critical. This detailed set of regulations:
- Governs commercial drivers, including bus and truck drivers
- Governs who coordinates transport, including managers and supervisors
- Protects goods transported
- Protects the general public
While largely unknown to consumers, this agency’s policies are critical to commercial enterprises. With autonomous trucks and self-driving cars gaining prevalence, auto legislation is only expected to rise. So whether your company relies on a fleet of rigs or buses, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure FMCSA remains a friend and not a foe.
Below are five ways that failure to meet FMCSA regulations could kill your business.
FMCSA regulations and commercial drivers
Because not just anyone is suited for the job of driving a commercial vehicle, the FMCSA enforces a host of commercial driver regulations, including those governing the maintenance of driver records.
1. Poor record maintenance
To be in compliance with these FMCSA regulations, you must maintain a driver qualification file, which includes driver certifications, licensure and coursework completion. And while no one likes shuffling paperwork, this is a critical step in proving driver preparedness.
FMCSA records are generally public. This means customers—even competing businesses—can check to see whether you’ve done your homework. If you haven’t, you run the risk of losing a client’s business and your reputation.
Failure to provide the FMCSA with required documents could have even more serious ramifications than creating a tarnished reputation. Depending on the specific document and length of time you have been out of compliance, you could face fines and/or loss of commercial driving privileges.
2. Failure to utilize the pre-employment screening program
Attention to driver records shouldn’t start after the candidate is hired. You can successfully avoid many record-related headaches by sufficiently vetting potential employees before they start.
The FMCSA offers a pre-employment screening program to assist your business. Available through an online portal and a mobile app, this program allows motor carriers to better ensure that those you entrust with the job of driving your business have passed appropriately rigorous checks.
While the use of this program isn’t mandatory, failure to use it puts your company at increased risk of hiring a candidate who lacks the necessary credentials. This could result in a loss of time and money.
FMCSA regulations and safety audit
It’s not just enough to get from point A to point B; driving must be done safely. The FMCSA is there to make sure it is.
The FMCSA safety audit is a multi-faceted exploration of everything necessary to keep the driver, passengers and the public safe. Audit categories range from alcohol and drug use to repair and inspection violations.
3. Record of severe or repeated safety violations
While you generally only have to be found in compliance in a certain percentage of safety areas, some violations are severe enough that they can result in automatic failure of the entire audit. If you have a driver operating a vehicle without a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), for example, you will fail your audit.
If you consistently fail to adhere to these safety regulations, you will receive violations. This will not only damage your business’ reputation but also expose you to fines and, potentially, forced shutdowns.
FMCSA regulations and hazardous materials
If you’re in the business of transporting hazardous materials, you’re required to meet additional safety fitness standards that pertain specifically to this area. These FMCSA HazMat standards measure your company’s preparedness to safely transport potentially dangerous substances.
These criteria cover a range of topics, from rules about parking vehicles containing hazardous materials to the process of dealing with accidents involving these types of vehicles.
4. Non-compliance with HazMat safety standards
To preserve the right to transport hazardous materials, you need to maintain these FMCSA standards. Failing to do so could jeopardize your right to transport goods of this type temporarily or even, in some cases, for the life of your business.
The FMCSA continually checks up on compliance with these standards, so you should prepare your business to face regular screenings—particularly if hazardous material transport is a large part of your company’s day-to-day business.
5. Poor HazMat safety ratings
When dealing with hazardous materials, safety is a must. Consumers and other companies will be less inclined to work with you if your business’ FMCSA safety rating leaves something to be desired.
Because these safety ratings are important, the FMCSA takes a lot of factors into consideration before assigning them. These factors include:
- Safety management controls
- Number and seriousness of regulatory violations
- Number and seriousness of driver-related violations
- An increase or decrease in violation count
- Frequency of accidents
- Frequency of hazardous materials incidents
- Number and seriousness of CMV violations
FMCSA regulations aren’t static, but instead continually evolve to meet changing needs and demands. The speed of this evolution will likely increase as the organization seeks to keep pace with the innovations of V2Gov. These changes will likely include, but not be limited to, enhanced automation. Since change is coming, it’s vital that you remain aware of updates.
At times, the FMCSA and its rigorous regulations may seem to be a nuisance. At the end of the day, however, its job is an important one: to ensure safety. While run-ins with this agency could be hazardous to your business, they don’t have to be. By playing by their rules, you can benefit from a squeaky clean record and an unparalleled reputation.