Avoiding an FMCSA Intervention

By Larry Spain – Senior Loss Control Representative, ACUITY

Nobody wants to go through an FMCSA intervention, which can range from warning letters to comprehensive onsite inspections, fines, and even disciplinary action. Avoiding an intervention means not only having a commitment to safety, but also understanding what triggers FMCSA action.

According to the FMCSA, the basic trigger for initiating the intervention process is when a carrier generates two alerts in BASIC categories for two consecutive months. There is some judgment exercised in the process, with Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs prioritized higher than others. However, interventions can also be triggered when a carrier exceeds the threshold in different combinations of any BASIC category, even if Crash Indicator or Unsafe Driving are not in alert status.

Interventions typically do not happen without notification. In serious situations, an investigation may be conducted without prior warning, but carriers will most often receive at least a warning letter that they are on the verge of being named to the mandatory intervention list. These warning letters should be taken seriously: they are advance notice to a carrier and an opportunity to take immediate corrective action and avoid the need for the FMCSA to intervene.

The only way a carrier can clear its record is to allow violations to age off while, of course, not generating any new ones. Most important, all carriers should be implementing polices to prevent violations and address the causes of any that do occur.

Safety Management Cycle (SMC), the tool behind the FMCSA’s investigative process, is also an effective tool motor carriers can use to determine which of the Safety Management Processes they may need to improve upon. The SMC provides a step-by-step process that goes beyond simply identifying what a violation is to identify why performance problems are occurring. SMC job aids are available for each BASIC, and more details can be found at

Utilizing the SMC will be beneficial to a carrier’s overall safety program. Also, responding to communication from the FMCSA in terms utilized by the SMC will help resolve concerns and, hopefully, avoid the intervention process.

The best advice in avoiding an FMCSA intervention is to take any communication from the FMCSA seriously and work proactively to prevent safety issues from occurring using all the tools at your disposal, including from the FMCSA, your independent insurance agent, and ACUITY.

Story provided by ACUITY, InGear Trucking Newsletter – Spring 2014