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An Overview of the New Entrant Program & Safety Audit
6 mins read

New trucking companies are considered New Entrant Motor Carriers by the FMCSA.

If you recently obtained a USDOT number and/or an Operating Authority (MC Number), you have been entered into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) New Entrant Program.

The New Entrant Monitoring Period

The FMCSA monitors New Entrants for a period of 18 months. During that time, you’ll be expected to familiarize yourself with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that apply to your operations.

This includes but is not limited to setting up required programs, such as DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification files, and regular vehicle maintenance, as well as preparing for the New Entrant Safety Audit (NESA).

The New Entrant Safety Audit

The New Entrant Safety Audit (NESA) will occur at some point during your 18-month monitoring period, but most often occurs within the first three to six months of obtaining your DOT number.

The purpose of the audit is to give you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have adequate safety management controls in place in order to operate safely on our nation’s roadways. It also gives you the opportunity to fine-tune any areas within the FMCSRs that may be deficient.

The NESA results in a “Pass” or “Fail” designation, and although no financial penalties are issued for violations or failures, it is the prime component that determines whether your registration as a motor carrier will be suspended or become permanent.

Notification of the New Entrant Safety Audit

Within the first 18 months of your DOT number registration, you’ll receive a written notification from the FMCSA indicating that it is time to schedule your NESA.

There are three methods by which the FMCSA conducts the audit:

  1. On-Site Audit – The FMCSA auditor or investigator will come to your principal place of business to conduct the review.
  1. Off-Site Audit – The FMCSA auditor or investigator will schedule several New Entrant Safety Audits within the same area. You may be required to go to a pre-determined site (such as a convention center or hotel) for the audit.
  1. Online Audit – You will be required to upload specific documentation to the FMCSA auditor or investigator online.

Failure of a New Entrant Safety Audit

There are specific violations considered “Critical” or “Acute” by the FMCSA. If they are found, you will receive an automatic failure of the audit.

Automatic failure violations include, but are not limited to:

  • No drug and alcohol testing program when required.
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) before receiving a negative pre-employment drug test result when required.
  • Using a driver without a valid CDL when required.
  • Using a driver who has been deemed medically unqualified.
  • Operating a CMV without the required level of insurance.
  • Failing to maintain hours of service records.
  • Operating a vehicle declared out of service during a roadside inspection before the required repairs were made.
  • Operating a CMV that has not undergone an annual/periodic DOT inspection.

Consequences of Failing the New Entrant Safety Audit

If you fail your NESA, you must implement a Corrective Action Plan to rectify the violation(s) and ensure violation(s) do not reoccur.

The Corrective Action Plan must be submitted to the FMCSA with specific descriptions of the actions taken, as well as documentation as evidence. If corrective action is not submitted or accepted by the FMCSA within 60 days for property carriers or 45 days for passenger/hazmat carriers, your New Entrant Registration will be revoked for a minimum of 30 days.

It's never a good thing to start off on the wrong foot.  The FMCSA tends to monitor companies that did not pass the NESA at the get-go. Having a firm grasp on the FMCSRs is the best way to ensure you pass your New Entrant Safety Audit.

How to Pass New Entrant Safety Audit

Juggling the process of starting a trucking company while learning the federal requirements you need to meet to be DOT-compliant and pass the New Entrant Safety Audit is nothing short of stressful. You need a reliable partner who can help ensure you're meeting those crucial requirements.

Foley's DOT compliance software can help you improve your chances of passing the New Entrant Safety Audit, as well as any additional DOT audits you face during your future business endeavors. 

Schedule a free demo call with one of our DOT compliance experts today and get on track with all your federal compliance requirements. Fill out the form below to get started. 

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