The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is offering reassurance to motor carriers utilizing its DataQs system to challenge inaccuracies in truck crash and inspection data. No longer would appeals of DataQs decisions be ruled on by the same state-level personnel who made the original determination and then denied its reconsideration, according to FMCSA’s proposal in the Federal Register.

DataQs allows motor carriers and drivers to correct unwarranted or incorrect information in a violation. Violations impact scores under the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. Those CSA scores, in turn, can affect motor carrier insurance rates, shipper choice, and even eligibility for weigh station bypass programs like PrePass. But sometimes mistakes occur in the issuance of violations – the truck license plate number may be entered incorrectly, or state personnel may misinterpret the federal regulation cited. With DataQs, a motor carrier can file a Request for Data Review (RDR) and challenge those inaccuracies. That same RDR process also supports the FMCSA Crash Prevention Determination Program, where certain types of crashes may be removed from a motor carrier’s safety rating determination.

Just like any other government decision, those involved may appeal a DataQs determination within the federal system. That appeal, called an RDR Reconsideration, is currently sent back to the same party, often a state-level highway safety program office, which denied the original DataQs RDR. The appeals process at the state levels vary widely, but more problematic in the eyes of the trucking industry is the transparency and independence of how RDR appeals are handled.

Now FMCSA proposes a change to that RDR appeals process. The current RDR and RDR Reconsideration processes would remain. But once a carrier exhausts those initial steps, it could make a further appeal. An appeal of an RDR Reconsideration which concerns significant matters of legal interpretation or implementation of enforcement policies or regulations would be ruled on by FMCSA itself, thereby maintaining consistency in the enforcement of federal regulations. RDRs pertaining to the Crash Preventability Determination Program or petitions to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse would not be eligible for an FMCSA appeal.

Appeals of RDR Reconsiderations, on the other hand, which relate primarily to factual issues would still go back to the state which issued the violation, but FMCSA proposes to require that a different state-level reviewer handle each such appeal rather than the one which originally denied the RDR and its reconsideration.

FMCSA requests public comments on this proposal by Nov. 13, 2023.

The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and integrated electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and INFORM™ Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.