Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

What Requests For Data Review Do You File?

Under the Comprehensive Safety Analysis system (CSA), motor carriers must constantly monitor their Safety Management System (SMS) scores.  Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) violations impact these scores.  At the American Trucking Association Forum for Motor Carrier General Counsel, Beth Thomas of Fed Ex shared the strategy that her company is using to challenge violations that law enforcement is writing against Fed Ex and its drivers.

Nevada Trucking Association, Nevada Trucking Lawyers, Mills & Associates, Nevada Trial Lawyer, Nevada Court System, Nevada Motor Transport Association, Nevada Appellate Lawyer 702-240-6060Beth suggests that carriers pick their battles.  Don’t expect to win every challenge you file.  If the circumstances are straight forward and there is little chance of winning, Fed Ex will not normally spend it time challenging the violations.  Fed Ex has found some arguments simply do not work.  Filing a Request for Data Review that does nothing more than contradict the investigating officer will not work.  If it’s a he said-she said circumstance, Beth said there needs to be some written documentation from the driver or other witness that will support the position.  Nor can the carrier expect that the violation to be removed just because the motor carrier fired the offending driver she said

Beth recommends following a simple outline when writing the Request for Data Review.

  • Identify the violation, the motor carrier and the driver
  • Give a simple explanation of the circumstances
  • Explain why the violation should be removed or changed
  • Attach a copy of the the inspection report and supporting documents

Beth said that Fed Ex has had success challenging many types of violations.  Sometimes the investigating officer assigns a violation to the wrong company or the wrong driver.  Beth says with back up documentation she has had great success in challenging these types of violations.  Beth also reports that Fed Ex has had some success in challenging improperly coded violations.  By challenging improperly coded violations, Fed Ex hopes to reduce the violation to a lower severity rating and get the points reduced.  When challenging factually incorrect violations, Beth said that having supporting documents is imperative.  Beth has also seen some officers stacking multiple violations based on the same underlying fact.  She has successfully challenged the stacking process reducing what were multiple violations into one or two.  Again, the strategy is to reduce the total number of overall points.  Fed Ex will also attack violations that there not specifically required or authorized by the regulations.

As you know, the states are responsible for resolving data disputes.  If the Fed Ex’s challenge is denied by the state, depending on the facts, Fed Ex will re‑challenge and request FMCSA review.

Beth has found the Data Qs User Guide and Manual to be an invaluable resource in crafting her challenges.  The Manual is meant to be a Best Practices guide for state reviewer.  She uses this guide to help her identify those challenges that are most likely to succeed.

Beth said that every state will handle the same violation differently so be prepared for frustration.  However remember you are not alone in your frustration.  In conclusion Beth reminded us to do our best to explain, and attach supporting documentation if challenges are to be approved.  These successful strategies should help you in challenging the violations and keep your SMS scores up.

Mills & Associates Nevada Trucking Lawyers 702-240-6060