The FMCSA’s No-Defect DVIR Final Rule: What it Means For All Motor Carriers

As your organization strives to stay compliant, there are some important changes made by the DOT’s FMCSA that are projected to save millions of dollars annually to be aware of.

One of the most recent rulings relates to vehicle inspection reports and what to do about them if no defects are found.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the impact the FMCSA’s no-defect DVIR final rule has for passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles, as well as the message they have been sending trucking companies and other motor carriers for quite some time.

What This No-Defect DVIR Final Rule Signals

Effective September 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rescinded the requirement that  passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles (like buses) operating in interstate commerce, submit and retain driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) if a driver has neither found nor been made aware of any vehicle defects or deficiencies.

According to the FMCSA final ruling that you can read here, this change was made to apply to passenger-carrying CMVs who previously were non-exempt from filling out and retaining DVIRs under all circumstances. This included DVIRs without defects, which continued to cause a significant paperwork burden for some organizations.

6 Things to Know for Passenger or Non-Passenger Carrying CMVs

For all motor carriers, even if your organization’s fleet isn’t made up of passenger-carrying CMVs, the FMCSA has been focusing on reducing unnecessary paperwork for some time now. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • In a 2014 ruling, drivers of non-passenger carrying CMVs (like truck drivers) were exempt from retaining these no-defect DVIRs
  • The final ruling in 2020 extends this ruling to drivers of passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce who were exempt from the 2014 ruling
  • If operating in intrastate commerce, it’s best to verify with your state on the applicability of the ruling
  • This final rule removes an information collection burden without adversely impacting safety
  • While not required, it’s still best practice to complete and retain non-defect DVIRs electronically
  • Moving away from paperwork is the main objective of the ruling

The Impact for Motor Carriers

motor carriers

The FMCSA estimates that drivers of passenger carrying CMVs spend approximately 2.4 million hours each year completing no-defect DVIRs. With this new rule in place, drivers will no longer be required to spend time doing this, though many companies still require no-defect DVIRs be completed as a condition of employment.

While this will ease the regulatory burden in the event defects aren’t spotted, organizations still must have a process in place for performing inspections and keeping them for 3 months.

Estimated Cost Savings

The FMCSA also projects that passenger-carrying CMV drivers alone will save their companies 74 million dollars annually, likely associated with the amount of money spent on paper inspection forms, filing cabinets, and other administrative costs.

Some in the industry welcome these new changes to cut down on paperwork, while others raise concerns that it won’t encourage drivers to thoroughly perform daily vehicle inspections, since there is no longer an obligation to turn in no-defect DVIRs.

Safety Not Impacted, But Here’s Why Retaining DVIRs is Still Important

While cost savings due to using less paper is a big win for some organizations, it still doesn’t change the fact that these daily DVIRs still must be completed and retained when defects are found.

For a growing number of organizations, the benefits of completing a non-defect DVIR far outweigh the inconvenience of completing or retaining these. However, this stance is really only relevant to organizations who complete their DVIRs digitally, since record retention is done automatically and storage is essentially a non-factor.

What Some Organizations are Saying About No-Defect DVIRs

While some organizations feeling the burden of paperwork were relieved by this recent ruling, others like Coach USA weren’t as supportive. The organization released a statement in the final rule, document stating:

“If a driver is not required to complete and submit a DVIR, it has no way of confirming that the driver completed the required vehicle inspections” and that it “would leave a significant gap in Coach USA’s vehicle maintenance process through which vehicle condition information (even a lack of defects/deficiencies) is directly communicated by drivers to dispatch/maintenance
operations.”

Elimination of Paperwork: A Key Focus for the DOT

In a world that’s propelled forward and fueled by technology, it only makes sense that trucking companies, those in passenger transport, and others gravitate towards a modern system. The effects of outdated record keeping in the industry as a whole is certainly not going unnoticed based on rulings like this one, but choosing not to collect data isn’t a winning strategy either.

By transitioning to a digital DVIR solution, you’ll be able to finally build a complete picture of your fleet’s inspection and maintenance history, as well as communicate with mechanics and other key stakeholders much more efficiently.

Eliminate Paper Inspection Forms Altogether with Whip Around

Inspection Hero

If paperwork or inefficient spreadsheets and other systems just aren’t working, try Whip Around for free today. Our easy to use and industry leading app will revolutionize how you manage and maintain your assets, and makes it easy for drivers to complete a proper inspection.

As the cost of paper inspection booklets continues to rise, we can help your organization convert the forms that you depend on to a convenient digital format available in the Whip Around application.

You’ll have more information right at your fingertips in the event of an audit, plus they’ll be much easier to find. To see firsthand how everything works, please contact us today to set up a demo or consultation.

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