With the national emergency suspension of hours-of-service now lasting through the end of 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to fulfill its purpose of maintaining safe truck operations without risking its agents contracting COVID-19. To do this, the FMCSA is issuing guidance about how they plan to do compliance reviews remotely.
Although systems in place normally state that reviews are to be done in person, the FMCSA realizes the current scenario America finds itself in demands a little leeway to get things done.
“Although the definition of ‘compliance review’ in 49 CFR 385.3 describes these reviews as ‘on-site,’ in practice, the advent of electronic recordkeeping and other technology now allows FMCSA to perform the same investigative functions remotely that it could perform previously only by in-person reviews of the motor carrier’s files,” the FMCSA said in its guidance issued on May 20th.
The FMCSA plans to accomplish this new method of inspection by using email, telephone, and video calls. It will also use its own online portal through which carriers can submit their relevant documentation securely.
While the guidance is effective immediately and plans to last until the end of the state of emergency, the guidance the FMCSA has issued is not binding nor has the force of law behind it. On-site inspections are still capable of being done at the FMCSA’s discretion. If truck drivers prefer an on-site inspection or lack the tools necessary to complete a review remotely (such as a webcam), there is still a good chance the agency would be willing to work something out in person.
This article is another entry into TopMark Funding’s series on the coronavirus pandemic and how it impacts truckers. For more articles covering the coronavirus pandemic, look below.
FMCSA Last updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
[PDF] FMCSA Guidance on Leveraging Technology to Conduct Reviews During COVID-19 Health Emergency