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DataQ challenges to take into consideration adjudicated citations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed changes to its Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). These changes will allow the states to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection violation data collected in MCMIS.

Individuals must submit certified documentation of adjudication results through a Request for Data Review (RDR) in FMCSA’s DataQs system to initiate this process. MCMIS is being modified to accept adjudication results showing that a citation was dismissed or resulted in a finding of not guilty; resulted in a conviction of a different or lesser charge; or, resulted in conviction of the original charge. The adjudication results will impact the use of roadside inspection violation data in other FMCSA data systems. These changes are intended to improve roadside inspection data quality.

Inspection data
State and local law enforcement officials routinely conduct roadside inspections documenting violations of laws or regulations that are compatible with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). These law enforcement officials, at their discretion, may issue citations for the violations recorded on the roadside inspection report.

States are responsible for entering roadside inspection and violation data into SafetyNet, a database management system that allows entry, access, analysis, and reporting of data from driver/vehicle inspections, crashes, investigations, assignments, and complaints. SafetyNet provides data to MCMIS that interfaces with several databases, including:

The Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system;
Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP); and
Safety Measurement System (SMS) for the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.
SafetyNet and MCMIS have always contained records of inspections and reportable crashes.

DataQs process
Pursuant to 49 CFR 350.201(s), one condition for participation in the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) is that a state establish a program to ensure that accurate and timely motor carrier safety data are collected and reported and that the state participates in a national motor carrier safety data correction system prescribed by FMCSA. DataQs is that national motor carrier data correction system.

DataQs is an online system that provides an electronic means for drivers, motor carriers, and members of the public to submit concerns about the accuracy of crash, inspection, and violation data in FMCSA data systems. When a request for an RDR is filed, the DataQs system automatically forwards the request to the appropriate federal or state office for processing and resolution (https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov/).

The data system and policy changes will allow drivers, motor carriers, and members of the public to file an RDR in FMCSA’s DataQs system and to seek acknowledgement of the adjudication in the inspection record. The change in the state data systems will parallel corresponding changes to FMCSA data systems. A citation that has been resolved through a judicial or administrative process, regardless of outcome, is considered to be adjudicated.

FMCSA believes these changes will:

provide a uniform and orderly process to incorporate recording adjudicated citations through DataQs under the state’s MCSAP Commercial Vehicle Safety Plans and budgets;
provide an effective process to ensure system effectiveness and data quality; and
reduce the cost of applying and implementing these changes across the agency and the states.
FMCSA is requiring that MCSAP grantees follow this policy of recording adjudication results as a condition of their grant funding under 49 CFR 350.201.

New data field
Previously, SafetyNet and MCMIS recorded inspection and violation data from the initial inspection report only and did not contain a data field that would allow the state to append the result of an adjudicated citation to the appropriate violation on the inspection report. With these changes, SafetyNet and MCMIS will be modified to provide a field that may be populated with the adjudication result of a citation associated with the related inspection report. The adjudication result will impact the use of the related violations in SMS and PSP.

Implementation
FMCSA’s State Programs Division will issue direction to the MCSAP agencies explaining the expectations and responsibilities related to the adjudicated citation process. This policy will apply to inspections occurring on or after August 23, 2014, and will be included in the next version of the DataQs manual.

FMCSA will conduct training for DataQs analysts through DataQs email blasts, training bulletins, and webinars. The webinars and other training will be provided to DataQs analysts before the policy is implemented to improve the consistency of implementation. The agency will also be providing training to its own staff. In addition, information will be available on the agency’s website and on the DataQs website.