FMCSA to conduct compliance reviews remotely during pandemic

May 20, 2020

Mark Schremmer


FMCSA unveiled a guidance document on Wednesday, May 20, that amends some “on-site” requirements for compliance reviews and safety rating assignments.

The guidance outlines how the agency suggests to use technology to conduct compliance reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will conduct compliance reviews … by leveraging all available technology to access information and records and thus limit exposure risk for the regulated community and safety investigators, the notice stated. “Using the same standards otherwise applicable, FMCSA will assign safety ratings following a compliance review even if no on-site review activities have taken place.”

The guidance applies to regulations in 49 CFR part 385, subpart A but does not apply to subpart B, which involves safety monitoring systems for Mexico-domiciled carriers.

FMCSA is required by statute to determine whether an operator of commercial motor vehicles can do so safely.

The agency said technology allows it to perform the “same investigative functions” remotely that it could perform previously only by in-person reviews of the motor carrier’s files.

“Motor carriers may access and transmit their information through a portal directly with FMCSA and upload documents in a secure environment,” the notice stated.

The agency said to promote social distancing it will conduct compliance reviews of motor carriers and assign safety ratings even if those reviews don’t include an on-site visit.

“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 … without compromising FMCSA’s safety mission,” the notice stated.

The guidance takes effect immediately and will remain in effect until the COVID-19 national emergency declaration is revoked, the agency said.

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.