Iron out U.S. Violations with DataQs
With the full implementation of the ELD regulations in the U.S., it is important to know how to manage violations and inspection reports as they come up.
As a motor carrier, you need to know how you can protect your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores to maintain credibility and keep your Safety Measurement System (SMS) clean of violations.
Explaining the Safety Measurement System (SMS) and DataQs
The SMS is a system that collects 2-years worth of data from roadside inspections, crash reports, and other investigations for each motor carrier. The idea is to create a profile that outlines how much of a risk you are to others on the road, ensuring public safety.
If you receive alerts, violations, and investigations on your SMS profile that you feel are wrongly associated with you or do not depict the sequence of events correctly, you can request a Data Review (RDR) with your local State Office.
The DataQ is an electronic process that makes it easier for you to compile all valid and necessary information. It allows you to challenge a decision made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Promptly complete your DataQ requests
It’s important for you to look into a DataQ request within a period of 2 years. Although the FMCSA does not restrict the time period in which you can dispute a violation on your Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) profile.
Determine the right RDR type
Ensure the data you’re entering is accurate, and that the type of action you select is correct because state officials spend lots of time and energy on correcting RDRs at the early stage of submissions. This can lead to a high probability of an item remaining on your Safety Measurement System (SMS).
To further assist you with this, follow these steps to properly submit your DataQ request:
- Add a file (or multiple) to support your RDR. These files can include any documentation that might help you. For example, any photos, videos, or other data created by the technology that you use to showcase the most complete chain of events possible.
- Focus on providing full details and a complete explanation.
- Include an up-to-date lease agreement with any owner-operator information.
- Make sure your contact information is correct and current.
- The FMCSA might request more information, so make sure to check the status of your application regularly.
Insert the appropriate Report Number
Depending on your Vehicle Inspection Report, the inspection or crash may belong to a certain state agency and motor carrier. Ensure to put in the right number to avoid any errors.
Lay down the groundwork
Make sure to research all applicable regulations and guidelines, and compare them to the facts at hand.
Give a clear-cut description to the State
Be clear about what you need in your review. Should the first category not suffice, add a comment outlining exactly what you need in the explanation section.
Include any applicable documentation that is relevant
This point is of paramount significance, as any additional investigating of state officials can result in your DataQ request being denied. Make sure to include pictures of time-stamped work orders and/or of alleged maintenance violations. It may happen that your DOT number is wrongly associated with a violation or inspection, in which case you need to provide the bills of lading, your truck registration documents, and your driver’s license. Additionally, if rental or lease agreements are available, attach those as well. If your violation includes the ruling of a judge, attach any legal documents towards the case to bring forward the most wholesome set of information possible.
Leave your emotions out of it
You should conduct a DataQ challenge with respect and leave any emotions you might have out of it. It’s in your best interest to send a factual depiction of the violations and inspections. Don’t abuse the comment section to denounce a State DOT officer, or recount an emotional outburst of frustration.
AOBRD vs ELD citations
When you’re dealing with an ELD type citation, include a copy of the AOBRD certification showing compliance with 395.15 with a deployed device, and include documentation that clearly shows you installed said devices before the grandfathering deadline on December 18, 2017.
Request more time when needed
If a State official is requesting more information from you, make sure to respond promptly. Communicating that you need more time will benefit you, rather than waiting to respond. Your request for additional time will likely be granted unless a lot of time has passed since the State Official has contacted you.
6 Quick Steps outlining how to produce a DataQ request:
- Select Event
- Select Type
- Confirm Selection
- Enter Details
- Submit Docs
- Confirm Request
What happens after?
Once you’ve submitted your DataQ request, it is sent to the particular State Office, in which the violation or inspection occurred. The request and all attached documents are then reviewed by an official. Additionally, the inspector that created the violation is drawn into the process to compare and challenge the data provided. After all the necessary steps have been taken, the lead investigator will make a decision based on all documentation assembled for your particular case. There is no set duration for this process as the state office may need extra time to source any additional documents. Feedback should be received after approximately 10 days of your submission, though you should follow up on the status of your request frequently.
Challenge the outcome if necessary
It is within your rights to appeal any decision made on your DataQ request by an administrator. Be sure to follow up with the FMCSA as necessary to stay up-to-date on the status of your request. If this is the case, you can resubmit the DataQ request. Before you resubmit a DataQ, take a second review that you have the necessary documentation and reasonable expectation to be successful. There are technical experts that review submitted DataQ challenges, and identify motor carriers that submit too many challenges without providing enough relevant documentation. Keeping your credibility is important, so don’t submit a challenge if you think you might get denied, and certainly don’t resubmit the same challenge after denial unless you’ve received new information that could help your case.