How to Successfully Complete a DataQ Appeal
The idea of wading through the FMCSA DataQ system to correct your safety records may sound daunting, but with a little guidance and knowledge it’s not as complicated as it seems. You just need to understand how the system works. More importantly, you need to understand how the system can work for you.
Christopher Turner, Director of Enforcement Data and Judicial Outreach for CVSA provided a very informative walk-through on how to monitor and change safety data to help carriers protect themselves from incorrect information.
Your safety record is an important aspect of your company reputation. Parts of this record can be accessed by potential clients, insurance companies, competitors, potential employees, and the public. It’s vital to your success to keep the record straight. Understanding what the DataQ system is and how to navigate it will help do just that.
Understanding the DataQ System
The FMCSA provides the DataQ system to maintain safety data provided by agencies and carriers. The system allows carriers, drivers, or federal and state agencies to file changes and concerns on the safety data provided.
The DOT uses the data in the system to evaluate current programs and develop new federal transportation policies. While the system was created to support safety enforcement programs, it gives trucking companies and their drivers a good picture of the current state of the industry.
The data collected can also affect CSA scores, so it’s important to make sure everything is accurate. For instance, if an incident is incorrectly assigned to your company or a duplicate record is assigned, this can damage your scores. You can correct this incorrect information with a request for data review.
Supporting Your Request for Data Review
As you go through the request, you will want to make sure you are as accurate as possible with the information you provide. Double check report numbers and the state. Make sure you have the right dates and times.
Discrepancies in the basic report information can delay your request. Being unclear in your description of the event for review can also cause delays. Make sure you are concise and stick to the facts. Confusion could result in an unsuccessful request.
You will also be able to attach supplemental information. This can include pictures, accident reports, or witness statements that are relevant to your request. If you have supplemental records that can provide compelling evidence, make use of it.
Keep in mind that the person reviewing your request may ask for further information to help them make a decision. Make sure all relevant documentation is available to send. You only get one opportunity to appeal a decision, so you need to make everything count.
Preparing for Disputes
In 2021 so far there have been over 69,000 crashes involving large trucks and buses. In those crashes there were 1,800+ fatalities and more than 32,000 injuries. With so many accidents, it’s not surprising that reports could get mixed up. That’s why it is so important to check your safety reports.
The first step in preparing for a disputed DataQ is at the scene of the incident. You want to make sure drivers are fully prepared for what to do and say at the scene. Your driver needs to collect as much data as possible in case you need to complete a request for data review.
You need to be clear on the type of info you want to make changes on. Is it a crash, an inspection, registration, etc.? This includes the reason for the changes, such as an incorrect violation or a report assigned to the wrong carrier.
Have all relevant information available to help complete the request. Report specifics such as number and codes will help your request process smoothly. Keep in mind that the original officer may be consulted, so make sure all information is correct.
Improving Your Safety Data
Requests for data review are useful to help improve your safety data. You can dispute inspection related data up to 3 years from the inspection date, and crash data up to 5 years. With a good understanding of how to navigate the DataQ system works, your chances of correcting the record are high.
You can also improve your safety data with proper training. A good orientation process, recurring training, and follow-up after incidents shows your company’s dedication to keeping the roads safe. This training should include what to do at the scene of an accident or inspection.
Combining training with policies your drivers can understand and follow reduces your chances of nuclear verdicts in case of a claim. This will help towards improving your safety data. The less claims you have against your company, the better your chances of correcting records.
Keeping drivers up to date on changes in regulations will help them maintain needed documentation and procedures. Provide checklists where necessary to ensure proper maintenance and inspection procedures. Taking the time to check on the safety of the vehicle before hitting the road will reduce incidents.
Protect Your Reputation
The tools available to help you monitor and improve your safety data help protect your company’s reputation. High CSA scores can scare clients and insurance companies away. Protecting your reputation starts with proper training though.
You want training solutions that provide simple assigning, tracking, and reporting tools so you can ensure drivers are ready to meet regulations and reduce on-the-road incidents. Infinit-I Workforce Solutions provides the tools you need with easy access for your drivers.
Reduce accidents, save money, and increase productivity with our trusted training management solutions. Request a free demo to learn how Infinit-I Workforce can work for you.