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New Entrant Motor Carrier Safety Program

The New Entrant Motor Carrier Safety Program, administered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), is designed to help new motor carrier operations understand the complex federal and state regulations that motor carriers are required to follow. This program was implemented in response to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, which aimed at reducing the number of safety incidents involving new motor carriers and drivers by providing increased training. In Ohio, the PUCO conducts all new entrant safety audits on behalf of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

All new interstate motor carriers are considered a new entrant for 18 months after they register with the FMCSA and receive an identification number from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). New entrant carriers are required to undergo and pass a safety audit within this period of time.

New entrant safety audit

The safety audit, conducted by the PUCO, is an educational module designed to ensure new entrant carriers have the knowledge and tools they need to operate safely and comply with state and federal regulations. While the safety audit will not result in a safety rating for the new entrant carrier, the audit does give the PUCO and the carrier the opportunity discuss any areas in which they may not be fully compliant.

During the safety audit, PUCO staff review areas of the motor carrier operation such as insurance, driver qualifications and hours of service, inspection and maintenance of vehicles and transportation of hazardous materials. The safety audit is held at one of several regional locations throughout the state or conducted remotely by telephone. The location is determined by the FMCSA.

Once the audit is completed, results are sent to the FMCSA and the carrier remains on new entrant status until the end of the 18 month period, during which time they continue to be closely monitored.

New Entrant Motor Carrier Program: Frequently asked questions

1. Why do I need a safety audit?

The safety audit was established as part of the New Entrant Motor Carrier Program in 1999 through the signing of the federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act. Each new interstate motor carrier that registers with the FMCSA is considered a new entrant for the first 18 months of operation. In Ohio, the PUCO conducts all new entrant motor carrier safety audits.

The safety audit is an opportunity for new motor carriers to meet with the PUCO to ensure they have the knowledge and tools needed to comply with federal and state regulations and operate safely. During the safety audit, carriers will work with PUCO staff to review records, understand the safety regulations, and determine if any areas need to be improved to operate in compliance.

2. How do I know if the new entrant program applies to me?

The new entrant motor carrier program applies to all new interstate motor carriers for 18 months after registering with the FMCSA and receiving a USDOT identification number.

3. Where do I need to go for the safety audit?

The PUCO conducts safety audits at one of several satellite locations throughout the state or by telephone. When an auditor contacts you, they will work with you to determine the best time to conduct the audit.

4. How long will the audit take?

The safety audit process generally takes one to four hours.

5. What materials will be reviewed during the safety audit?

During the safety audit, PUCO staff will review the documentation of the motor carrier operation, including the following:

  • Insurance and economic documentation
  • Controlled substances and alcohol testing
  • Accident records
  • Driver qualifications
  • Hours of service records
  • Equipment/maintenance records
  • Hazardous materials records (if applicable)
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Gross vehicle weight rating documentation

When you are contacted about the safety audit, you will receive more detailed instructions about the forms and documentation you will need to submit electronically or bring to the audit.

6. Am I still considered a new entrant if I am leased onto another motor carrier company?

If you are a new carrier operating under the authority of another carrier, you are considered a registrant and do not need to go through the safety audit process with the PUCO. However, you still need to inform the PUCO of your operating status with the other carrier.

7. What if I operate solely in Ohio?

If you are a motor carrier operating only in Ohio, you are considered an intrastate motor carrier and do not need a safety audit. However, intrastate for-hire motor carriers still need to register their operations with the PUCO.

8. What happens if I do not show up to my scheduled audit?

Failure to show up to a scheduled audit may result in your USDOT number being revoked or your operation placed out of service by FMCSA.

9. How do I ensure a successful safety audit?

To ensure a successful safety audit, make sure you have all the required records organized and well-documented. This will enable the PUCO to conduct a thorough review of your motor carrier operation and make sure you are complying with all of the federal and state regulations.

The safety audit will not result in a safety rating for your motor carrier. This process is an opportunity for you to meet with the PUCO to review your records and make sure you understand what needs to be done to operate in compliance.

10. What happens if there are problems found during the safety audit?

If the PUCO auditor conducting the audit finds areas of deficiency within your motor carrier operation, they will make you aware of them so you can take corrective action to ensure compliance in the future.

Once the safety audit is completed, the PUCO auditor sends the information from the audit to the FMCSA for review. If the FMCSA determines that there were enough deficiencies to warrant a failed safety audit, you must submit evidence of corrective action to the FMCSA to ensure continued operations.

11. What happens after the safety audit?

After the safety audit is conducted, a carrier will remain on new entrant status for the remainder of the 18 months after receiving a USDOT number. During this 18 month period, the carrier is closely monitored by the FMCSA and PUCO to ensure that operations remain in compliance with federal and state regulations.