Proposed Changes Would Allow Updates to FMCSA Violation Data

Written by Donald Jerrell | Wed, Dec 04,2013 @ 12:00 PM

HNI Associate Vice President

FMCSA proposed changes to how adjudicated state citations are treated in its Motor Carrier Management Information System. The changes were inspired by concerns from the transportation industry.

Our clients and the transportation community often voice two main objections over the handling of adjudicated citations:

1.) Results from roadside inspections are uploaded by the state's FMCSA enforcement agency directly into MCMIS. But inspection results are adjudicated much later than the initial upload, and there's no way to directly share the adjudicated violations with FMCSA.

2.) State DataQ analysts were advised to use their discretion on whether to remove adjudicated citations from MCMIS records. This practice was criticized as lacking objectivity and as possibly leading to unfairness among motor carriers and drivers being assessed.

FMCSA strives to improve road safety by identifying trends in violation data — data that are complete, timely, accurate, and consistently reported. The short story is that when adjudicated citations aren't reported to FMCSA, the data suffer, and the agency's safety mission also suffers. The proposed changes aim to improve the overall quality of roadside inspection data.

New Rules for Updating Adjudicated Citations

According to FMCSA's proposed changes, after a citation is adjudicated in a state court, a motor carrier would file a Request for Data Review (RDR) in the DataQ system. Federal records only would be updated for RDRs that provide adequate documentation of an adjudicated citation. The adjudication results will be entered by the state into SafetyNet and uploaded to MCMIS.

The proposed changes would allow MCMIS to update records for adjudicated violations that:

  • Were dismissed or resulted in a not guilty finding
  • Resulted in a conviction of a different or lesser charge
  • Resulted in a conviction of the original charge

How the Adjudicated Citations Will Appear in Databases

FMCSA proposed adjudicated violations will appear in the Safety Measurement System and Pre-employment Screening Program database like this:

Result of adjudicated citation associated with a violation uploaded to MCMIS Violation in SMS Violation in PSP
Convicted of original charge Retain violation Retain violation
Not guilty/Dismissed Remove violation Remove violation
Convicted of a different charge Retain and indicate violation as "Resulted in conviction of a different charge"; SMS severity weight set to lowest value in BASIC Retain and indicate violation as "Resulted in conviction of a different charge"

Under the proposed changes, citations that result in a fine or court costs, even if dismissed, will be marked as a conviction.

The trucking industry generally supports the proposed updates. Some companies, however, are concerned about the RDR requirement and view it as a redundancy. Some companies also would like to see a retroactive review of adjudicated citations.

The proposed changes were published in the Federal Register on Monday, Dec. 2, and comments on the public notice must be received by Jan. 2, 2014. FMCSA did not have to share the public notice to make the changes, but the agency is striving to be more transparent. After the comment period closes, FMCSA will review the comments and likely implement the changes at the beginning of February.

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