Truckers echo need for DataQs appeals process

October 25, 2023

Mark Schremmer


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposal to create a DataQs appeals process would be a welcome change, according to comments from several truckers.

DataQs is an FMCSA system that allows carriers and drivers to request and track a review of crash or inspection data that the requester believes is incomplete or incorrect.

According to FMCSA’s website, the goal of the system is to improve the accuracy of its data, because “accurate data leads to safer roads.”

Many truckers have complained, however, that the current system lacks due process, as determinations often are made by the same person who issued the violation. Last month, FMCSA published a notice proposing motor carriers or truck drivers have a right to appeal when they believe incorrect information has been submitted.

This would provide DataQs users a chance to have their requests reviewed by FMCSA if denied by a state agency.

FMCSA is accepting comments on its proposal through Nov. 13.

Several truckers and companies have already filed comments, saying DataQs reform is sorely needed.

“The DataQs process as it stands is flawed and bias(ed) against the driver by the very fact that the original officer is adjudicating the appeal of any violation,” Hotshot Trucking Shows USA wrote in comments to the agency. “Therefore, (it) has a tainted and vested interest in the outcome of the process. Also, the very process hinges on the very interpretation of the officer, county and state where the violation took place.”

In addition to creating an independent appeals process, Patrick Weinbauer told the agency that more changes are needed.

“I agree with adding a level for appeals, but I think the bigger issue is revamping the DataQs system to include more situations that can be challenged,” Weinbauer wrote. “Our company currently has three accidents on our record that are listed as preventable when they were 100% not preventable. However, they don’t fit into any of the categories that would allow us to challenge them. In all three cases, we have video evidence to show we were not at fault.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents small-business truckers, has spoken out for years about the system’s lack of due process.

OOIDA shared problems with the system at a U.S. Small Business Administration hearing in 2019.

“Very few law enforcement officers are willing to admit they made a mistake,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “This is problematic, because violations remain on a driver’s or carrier’s safety record and can negatively impact the employability of a driver and insurance costs for small motor carriers, among other consequences. Additionally, the review process can take months to complete, which discourages OOIDA members from ever filing an initial appeal.”

As part of the proposed appeals process, FMCSA said it will include requirements to ensure an independent review of all requests. The outcome of the FMCSA review would be deemed final.

The public will have through Nov. 13 to comment. Comments can be made here or by going to the website and entering Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0190. LL