Your DOT Safety Rating is an important part of your business operations. Insurance carriers, brokers, clients, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and DPS all monitor this score. Your insurance rates may be affected along with the ability to obtain contracts. The government, including FMCSA and DPS, may conduct audits and compliance reviews resulting in administrative penalties and possible out-of-service orders. This rating system is based primarily on roadside safety (DOT) inspections conducted by local, state and federal agencies. It is imperative that you review each and every roadside inspection report as soon as possible after the inspection. Every violation listed carries a point value that can detrimentally affect your score. Some violations carry higher point values based upon the severity of the violation.
Drivers are required to present the inspection copy to carrier officials for review and certification that any violations listed have been corrected. If you believe a violation has been incorrectly shown on the report, you have two options here in Texas. You can contact the Inspector/trooper or supervisor to discuss the violation. Many times this action can resolve the issue. The other option is to file a Data Q with FMCSA. To do this, you will need the PIN that you obtained when you filed for your USDOT number. If you lost this number, you can request FMCSA send you another one. When filing a challenge to any violation it is important to present any documentation you may have such as pictures, shipping papers and leases. The Data Q challenge will be routed through whatever system each state has in place. In Texas, it is first sent to the inspector and his/her supervisor for review. At this point, the violation can be removed, changed or left to stand as is. A secondary challenge is allowed which goes through the DPS chain of command.
To access the Data Q process, go to the FMCSA website at https://fmcsa. dot.gov/. Select the “Carriers” tab and the Data Q link in on this page. For a list of the local CVE sergeants, refer to the DPS publication MCS-9 found on the DPS website or available through Lee Taylor at AGC.