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Safety Audit Frequently Asked Questions

Getting through your new entrant safety audit is a critical step in becoming a motor carrier. If you have questions about what to expect, or how to prepare, please review the answers to some of our commonly asked questions below. Or, visit our new entrant page for an overview of your primary requirements.


Who is subject to a DOT Safety Audit?
All New Entrant motor carriers are subject to DOT Safety Audits. Upon issuance of a Federal USDOT number, motor carriers are granted temporary operating authority and automatically enrolled in the DOT’s New Entrant Safety Program – which requires a Safety Audit.

What if I fail my Safety Audit?
New Entrants who fail a Safety Audit cannot obtain permanent operating authority without first correcting any areas of non-compliance found during the Safety Audit.

When will my Safety Audit occur?
On October 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed the rules to make the New Entrant Safety Audit occur earlier for motor carriers:

  • Most motor carriers will have to undergo the New Entrant Safety Audit within 12 months of registering with the DOT.
  • Passenger carriers must undergo the New Entrant Safety Audit within 120 days of registering with the DOT.

Where will my Safety Audit take place?
Your Safety Audit will either occur at your primary business location, or at a local facility, such as a hotel or conference center, along with other New Entrants from the area.

Who will conduct my Safety Audit?
To complete the volume of audits it must conduct each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration deploys Federal and state officials as well as representatives from private compliance companies.

What key areas will my Safety Audit focus on?
While other areas may be examined, your Safety Audit will focus on six key areas:

  • Driver Qualifications
  • Driver Duty Status/Hours-of-Service
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Accident Registers and Documentation
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use Testing
  • Hazardous Materials Requirements

How will FMCSA notify me of my upcoming Safety Audit?
You will be notified of an upcoming audit by mail. The letter will instruct you to call FMCSA and set up a day and time for your audit. Once you’ve been notified, you have 90 days to schedule your audit.

What if I don’t respond to the first Safety Audit notice?
If you fail to schedule your Safety Audit within 90 days of notification, you will receive a second letter. You have 10 days from the date of this letter to schedule your audit. If you do not respond in time, your operating authority will be revoked.

How will FMCSA notify me of my upcoming Safety Audit?
You will be notified of an upcoming audit by mail. The letter will instruct you to call FMCSA and set up a day and time for your audit. Once you’ve been notified, you have 90 days to schedule your audit.

How do I enroll in your Audit Assurance Program?
Call 1-800-253-5506, ext. 0869 for more information or to enroll in our Audit Assurance Program.

Can you really guarantee that I will pass my audit?
Foley will do everything we can to help you achieve a successful audit outcome. However, please be advised that getting into and maintaining compliance with the DOT regulations requires you to complete ongoing activities in a timely manner.

What type of post-audit support do your provide for Audit Assurance Program clients?
Our post-audit support will help clients through any issues related to non-compliance. This includes, if necessary, a letter explaining audit results along with any required or recommended compliance action. We may also assist with the preparation of corrective action letters, extension and administrative review requests, and other post-audit correspondence. In the event of a shutdown, we will work closely with the motor carrier to get the company back up and running.

What type of in-audit support do your provide for Audit Assurance Program clients?
The Foley Audit Assurance Team is available five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST for clients needing in-audit support. If necessary, a rep will speak directly to an auditor to provide information about products and services provided by Foley. The team can also prepare custom documentation to satisfy an auditor’s request.

What type of pre-audit support do your provide for Audit Assurance Program clients?
Once notified of an upcoming audit, we kick it into high gear to make sure our Audit Assurance Clients are fully prepared for the auditor. We conduct a compliance analysis via telephone covering all of the areas investigated by auditors. Clients will also receive documentation and technical support for any of Foley’s products and/or services the company is enrolled in. Additionally, Foley will provide limited support for services offered by other providers.

I’m not expecting an audit. Why should I enroll in your service?
Just because you are not expecting an audit does not mean that that you won’t be hearing from the DOT. FMCSA, the DOT agency charged with ensuring motor carrier safety, conducts thousands of audits each year, and your turn may be right around the corner.

Also, our Audit Assurance Program will help you get into compliance and maintain it on an ongoing basis. Our program will help improve your safety compliance, thus making your operation safer.

I’m a New Entrant. I don’t have to worry about a Compliance Review until after my 18-month Safety Monitoring Period, right?
Wrong. Once you are on the road you may be subject to a full Compliance Review even before you receive your New Entrant Safety Audit. Compliance Reviews may be triggered by roadside inspection outcomes or by an accident involving one of your vehicles. There is no excuse for non-compliance and the consequences can be severe. FMCSA expects you to comply with all applicable safety regulations starting from your first day in business.

How may a carrier improve upon on conditional or unsatisfactory rating?
A carrier that has taken action to correct deficiencies that resulted in a poor safety rating may request a rating change at any time. The request must be made in writing to the FMCSA Service Center for the geographic area where the carrier maintains its principal place of business.

How is a carrier notified of deficiencies following a compliance review?
As soon as practicable, but no less than 30 days after the review, the carrier will receive a written notice of the outcome. A letter will be issued from FMCSA’s headquarters office and will include a list of FMCSR and HMR compliance deficiencies which the motor carrier must correct.

When is a motor carrier safety rating issued?
Under most circumstances, the safety rating will be issued to the motor carrier within 30 days following the completion of a compliance review.

Why is my company considered an Unrated carrier?
This simply means that FMCSA has not assigned a safety rating to your company.

What is the difference between a Satisfactory, Conditional and Unsatisfactory rating?
Satisfactory safety rating means that a motor carrier has in place and functioning safety management controls that are appropriate for the size and type of operation of the particular motor carrier.
A Conditional safety rating means a motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place, and this could result in violations.

An Unsatisfactory safety rating means a motor carrier does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance, and this has resulted in violations.

When and why are compliance reviews conducted?
A compliance review may be conducted in response to a request to change a safety rating, to investigate potential violations of safety regulations by motor carriers, or to investigate complaints, or other evidence of safety violations. The compliance review may result in the initiation of an enforcement action.

What is a compliance review?
A compliance review is an on-site examination of motor carrier operations to determine whether a motor carrier is meeting the safety fitness standard. Compliance reviews cover the full spectrum of compliance areas, such as drivers’ hours of service, maintenance and inspection, driver qualification, commercial drivers license requirements, financial responsibility, accidents, hazardous materials, and other safety and transportation records.