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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 a carrier’s place of business or one of 18 regional locations throughout the state. The best location is determined when the carrier contacts the PUCO to schedule the audit.

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. (Refer to CMV 390.5)

Please note that there are a few exceptions to this rule, which will be addressed in questions 7-9.

3. How do I schedule a safety audit?

To schedule a new entrant safety audit, contact the PUCO at (877) 709-0121.

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

The PUCO conducts safety audits at a carrier’s facility or at one of 18 satellite locations throughout the state. When you call the PUCO to schedule the audit, a staff member will work with you to determine which location will be the best place for you and a staff member to conduct the audit.

5. How long will the audit take?

The safety audit process generally takes two to four hours.

6. 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 logs
  • Equipment/maintenance records
  • Hazardous materials records (if applicable)
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Gross vehicle weight rating documentation

When you schedule the safety audit, you will receive more detailed instructions about the forms and documentation you will need to bring to the audit.

7. 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.

8. 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 to schedule a safety audit. However, intrastate for-hire motor carriers still need to register their operations with the PUCO.

9. 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. If for some reason you are unable to attend your scheduled safety audit, please contact the PUCO at (877) 709-0121 as soon as possible to reschedule.

10. 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.

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

If the PUCO staff person 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 staff person 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, the FMCSA will send the new entrant carrier a written "Notice to Remedy" within 45 days. This will include information about the actions that need to be taken in order for the new entrant carrier to keep their USDOT number and continue operations.

The new entrant safety audit is meant to be an educational tool to help new entrant carriers understand the safety regulations and what needs to be done to ensure compliance. Many areas of the motor carrier operation are reviewed during the audit. However, several critical safety areas, called acute regulations, are especially important in ensuring the safe and responsible operation of motor carriers. If during the safety audit the PUCO discovers an acute violation in the new entrant operation, the safety audit will turn into a formal compliance review that could result in penalties against the carrier.

Some examples of acute violations are:

  • Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substance testing program.
  • Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Requiring or permitting a driver to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of, or in
    possession of, an intoxicating beverage.
  • Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared out of
    service before repairs were made.

For a complete list of acute violations, see 49 CFR 385.

12. 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 PUCO to ensure that operations remain in compliance with federal and state regulations.