Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

How To Upgrade Your Motor Carrier Safety Rating

FMCSAThere’s no way to know when a truck accident might happen. But if I am a broker or a shipper, I am going to do best to select truckers that are the safest and most reliable. I don’t want my goods damaged in an accident. In this world of ever expanding liability, I don’t want injured people suing me for injuries. So I will always do my best to find the safest driver.

Traditionally, shippers and brokers have looked to a motor carrier’s Safety Rating as a prime indicator as to whether a motor carrier can be trusted to safely haul a load. Still, , that Safety Rating along with the motor carrier’s BASIC scores, are the best yardsticks shippers and brokers have to measure a carrier’s reliability and safety. Transportation Agreements will often say that the motor carrier that is hauling the load must have nothing less than a Satisfactory Safety Rating.

However, drivers and motor carrier know that in the real world, Satisfactory Safety Ratings are hard to maintain. Out on the road, sometimes stuff just happens. Roadside Inspections and Compliance Reviews don’t always turn out the way we hope. Safety Ratings can be downgraded even when we don’t expect them to be.

However, as a motor carrier, if you have a Conditional Safety Rating, you can only avoid this issue for so long. You might be fooling yourself into believing that this issue will solve itself, that if you drive enough safe miles and carry enough loads safely that the FMCSA will see your good works and automatically reward you with an upgrade to your Safety Rating. It just doesn’t happen that way. You might be saying to yourself that “That Safety Rating is not a real indicator of how safe a motor carrier is.” But at the same time, you will continue to miss out on some of the best loads because you don’t have the Satisfactory Safety Rating that so many shippers and brokers require.

If you are at the point that you need to do something, here are the affirmative steps you can take to upgrade that Conditional Safety Rating. FMCSR § 385.17 describes the steps. Let’s review those.

First, the request to upgrade your Safety Rating must in writing and must be addressed to the FMCSA Service Center for the geographical area where you maintain your principal place of business. The written request for an upgrade must address the safety deficiencies found in the Compliance Review (CR) that downgraded the rating. The written request must cite evidence that corrective action has been taken to resolve the safety issues raised by the Compliance Review.

When I prepare these upgrade requests, I go one by one down the list of violations in the CR and with each one I explain the steps the motor carrier has taken to address that particular problem. If available, I also add a description of the system now in place that will show that the problem should not recur. If the downgrade happened some time ago, I add evidence that the problem has not recurred since the CR and I cite to current BASIC scored in that area to support that argument. Those things are all great evidence supporting the argument that the Safety Rating should be restored.

Perhaps one day these Safety Ratings will be phased out and completely replaced by the BASIC scores. But in the meantime, if you have questions about how to upgrade your Safety Rating, don’t hesitate to contact Mike Mills at Mills & Associates at 702-240-6060×114. He will be glad to consult with you.