How To Pass The New Entrant Safety Audit
In the first 12 months of operation, your new trucking authority will be subject to the New Entrant Safety Audit. So let’s talk about it!
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve managed to jump through the many hoops to opening your own trucking company. Congratulations!
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), your compliance journey with the FMCSA has only just begun. In the first 12 months of operation, your new trucking authority will be subject to the New Entrant Safety Audit. So let’s talk about it!
Leer este artículo en español.
What is the New Entrant Safety Audit?
The FMCSA’s New Entrant Program “monitors motor carriers’ compliance with safety regulations for their first 18 months.” Basically, new carriers undergo a higher level of scrutiny to make sure they’re up for the challenge of complying with all federal safety regulations.
This program applies to you if you’re registered as an interstate carrier and have a new operating authority.
Learn more about getting your operating authority in this article.
As part of this program, the New Entrant Safety Audit is performed for all new carriers within those first 12 months. It can happen any time in that window, so you want to be ready at a moment’s notice.
The audit is performed to ensure you are operating safely and keeping up-to-date records. You must pass this audit to obtain your permanent authority.
What’s Included in the New Entrant Safety Audit?
Alcohol and Drug Testing Program
The FMCSA wants to ensure that you are following all the regulations around alcohol and drug testing. This is arguably the most important part of the audit. Violations in this section have been known to lead to immediate revocation of your operating authority.
Here’s what you need to show the officer to pass this part of the audit:
- Proof of membership to a Drug and Alcohol Testing Consortium (for CDL drivers)
- Registration on the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse with an accepted third-party administrator and proof of queries (for CDL drivers)
- Post-accident drug tests (for CDL drivers)
- Driver qualification files on every driver (including yourself as an owner-operator) that contain, among other required documents, pre-employment drug and alcohol testing and results as well as evidence of random drug and alcohol testing.
- Drug and alcohol supervisor training and written drug testing policy (only if you have drivers)
You can automatically fail the audit for any of the following reasons:
- No alcohol and/or drug testing program.
- No RANDOM alcohol and/or drug testing program.
- Using a driver who refused a required alcohol or drug test.
- Using a driver the company knows had a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or greater.
- Using a driver who failed to complete required follow-up procedures after testing positive for drugs.
Apart from drug and alcohol testing documentation, you also need a list of drivers with their first and last names, dates of birth, dates of hire, license numbers, and licensing states.
In addition to the list, every driver needs a Driver Qualification file. This includes…
- Driver’s License (CDL if applicable)
- Driver’s Records on Duty and Supporting Documentation (tolls, receipts)
- Driver’s Motor Vehicle Record (MVR)
- Medical certificate and DOT medical exam
- Application of employment (this is not necessary if you are the business owner and the only driver)
Read the full article about DQ Files here.
If you’ve knowingly used a driver with any of these violations, you can automatically fail the audit:
- A driver without a valid CDL.
- A disqualified driver.
- A driver with a revoked, suspended, or canceled CDL.
- A medically unqualified driver.
Auditors may also ask you to provide paperwork regarding insurance and hours-of-service records.
Be sure to have all your insurance policies on hand, including anything for hazmat if applicable.
In addition, keep track of your MCS-90 form. You will likely need to send this form to the auditor.
As mentioned above, driver’s records on duty and supporting documentation like tolls and receipts are required in the Driver Qualification file.
You’ll also need to show ELD logs for the last 30 days leading up to the audit. This report is easy enough to generate once you know the date of your audit.
Not having this paperwork can lead to instant failure of the audit.
Vehicles, Repairs, and Inspections
Another part of the audit looks at your vehicles. You will want to keep a running list of all vehicles you’ve used to transport cargo, as well as all documentation regarding cab cards and USDOT vehicle and on-the-road inspections.
Your vehicle list should include the VIN numbers, license plate states, and numbers, make, model, year, and the name and model number of your ELD.
If repairs were required after an inspection, keep documentation that those repairs were performed as well as evidence of when the vehicle was used.
These violations will lead to immediate failure of the audit:
- Operating a vehicle declared Out-of-Service by the DOT for safety deficiencies before repairs are made.
- Not performing OOS repairs reported in driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs).
- Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) not periodically inspected.
How will I know when the audit will happen?
As mentioned above, the New Entrant Safety Audit will typically happen between 3 and 12 months after your authority is activated.
The state-level enforcement agency will contact you, usually via email but it could be by physical mail, to set up a date and time. They will let you know in that message how many days you have to respond. Respond as quickly as you can!
If you don’t respond to that message in your inbox or mailbox within the specified time frame, you will be put out of service. And you really don’t want that!
What happens if I fail the audit?
If you’re found to have violations during the New Entrant Safety Audit, the consequences will depend on the severity of the infraction.
Some more serious violations can lead immediately to revoking your operating authority and shutting down your business.
If violations are relatively minor, you will need to implement “corrective action”, i.e. fix what’s wrong, and report it back to the auditing officer.
But instead of focusing on what “might happen”, focus on what you can control. And in that category is your filing system.
Always be prepared!
Having an excellent filing system will allow you to respond to the auditor’s questions and pull documents quickly. This will leave the impression that you are who you are – a responsible, organized business owner!
A good filing system doesn’t need to be fancy. You can have physical or electronic documents, whatever makes you feel comfortable. We recommend having an electronic copy of everything, though, just in case.
Create a folder on the desktop of your computer called “New Entrant Safety Audit”. Then create folders within that folder labeled “Driver Qualification Files”, “Drug and Alcohol Testing”, “Operations”, and “Vehicles”. Every time you get a new document that you might need for your New Entrant Safety Audit, make a copy and keep it in that folder. It’s much easier to keep up with each document, one-by-one, than let them pile up and get away from you.