In February the FMCSA began sending warning letters to motor carriers. This article will provide a basic overview of what a warning letter is, who will receive a warning letter, and what to do if you receive a warning letter.
Warning letters are the initial intervention under CSA. A warning letter provides early contact with carriers who have identifiable, but not yet severe, safety problems. It is designed to make carriers aware of their safety performance issues so they can address them early, and outlines possible consequences of continued safety problems. A sample warning letter can be found here.
A carrier will receive a warning letter if its Safety Measurement System (SMS) score exceeds the threshold in any Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) resulting in the assignment of an “Alert.” The SMS calculates a measure for each BASIC as a percentile on a 0-100 scale. A lower percentile indicates better compliance with safety regulations than a higher percentile. The current thresholds that will trigger an “Alert” in any BASIC are as follows:
- Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Crash Indicator
- General = 65%
- HAZMAT = 60%
- Passenger = 50%
- Driver Fitness, Controlled Substance/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo:
- General = 80%
- HAZMAT = 75%
- Passenger = 65%
If a carrier receives a warning letter, the carrier is not required to send a written response to FMCSA. However, while a direct response to a warning letter is not required, carriers receiving warning letters should take steps to rectify the issues leading to the warning letter in order to avert more intensive interventions in the future. Specifically, carriers should log in to the SMS here or log in to the FMCSA Portal. Once logged in, the carrier will be able to review its data. Close attention should be given to any BASICS in which their is an Alert. The carrier needs to ensure that all the data is accurate. If any of the data is inaccurate, the carrier can submit a request for data review through the DataQs system. Carriers also should develop and execute strategies that will make their operations compliant with the safety regulations. Continued poor performance may lead to more intensive interventions. More intensive interventions include Offsite Investigations, Onsite Focused Investigations, and Onsite Comprehensive Investigations.
Finally, all carriers should sign up to receive the FMCSA CSA email updates. By subscribing you will receive updates on program enhancements, tipsheets (like this one on warning letters), other materials, and be alerted to when new data is uploaded to the SMS. You can subscribe here.
If you receive a warning letter and need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.