WASHINGTON — An audit of The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) oversight of CDL disqualification regs revealed gaps and challenges in the process, which relies on state agencies to submit data related to commercial drivers’ traffic violations and convictions. The self-initiated audit, conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), was launched in fall of 2019 and completed this year.
According to the OIG’s report, states did not submit electronic conviction notices in a timely manner 17% of the time. Specifically, the OIG estimates that states did not transmit electronic data in a timely manner for 18% of 2,182 major offenses and 17% of 23,628 serious traffic violations.
In addition, the OIG estimates that 11% of the 2,182 major offenses noted above were not posted in a timely manner, and that 2% of the 23,628 serious traffic violations were never posted to driver records at all. For the most part the report shows, states did take action to disqualify CDLs “when appropriate,” the report notes. However, because electronic data was not always posted in a timely manner, FMCSA’s evaluation of conviction notices was sometimes hindered by states’ processes for sending the information by mail.
The report also notes that the FMCSA’s Annual Program Review process “lacks adequate quality control measures for verifying that state CDL programs meet federal requirements” and that state noncompliance with federal CDL disqualification requirements, along with other state actions, “pose challenges for FMCSA’s oversight.”
According to the OIG, some states offered administrative appeals to out-of-state drivers, overturned disqualifications and backdated CDL disqualification periods, which resulted in some drivers’ disqualification periods being shorter than required by federal law.
The OIG made seven recommendations to help FMCSA strengthen its oversight of states’ actions to comply with federal CDL disqualification requirements:
- Improve requirements for states to record, track and maintain paper-based convictions sent and received via mail.
- Finalize and implement standardized operating procedures for conducting annual program reviews and for supervisory quality control reviews of completed annual program reviews.
- Modify the annual program review checklist to require reviewers to address key factors.
- Finalize and implement a standard operating procedure for determining when a state is not making a good-faith effort to timely mitigate compliance issues and when to impose sanctions on noncompliant states.
- Complete the agency’s review of the State Compliance Records Enterprise system and implement identified improvements for managing states’ compliance issues.
- Develop and implement a process to segregate non-CDL holder convictions from all CDL Information System reports and workbooks utilized to evaluate state’s compliance with CDL regulations.
- Develop and implement a plan for coordinating with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to mitigate risks when states transition to new software systems.