Changes to take effect by
January 1, 2016
Major changes are going to happen to California’s current Biennial Inspection of Terminal (BIT) program based on Governor Brown signing legislation in October. The current BIT program requires all motor carriers to register with CHP within 30 days of establishing a terminal and for CHP to inspect every terminal once every 25 months.
Highlights of Coming Changes
CHP is required to implement a performance-based truck terminal inspection priority system similar to that used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that would require the department to place an inspection priority on motor carrier terminals never previously inspected by the department.
CHP is also required to create a database to contain specified performance-based (accident, citation and roadside inspection history) data. This would replace CHP’s current Management Information System of Terminal Evaluation Records (MISTER) which cannot publicly display motor carrier data in a similar way FMCSA’s SAFER system displays data. CHP is also required to mimic certain aspects of FMCSA’s current Safety Measurement System (SMS) used as part of its CSA initiative. The law mandates:
The department shall adopt rules and regulations establishing a performance-based truck terminal inspection selection priority system. In adopting the system’s rules and regulations, the department shall incorporate methodologies consistent with those used by the FMCSA, including those related to the quantitative analysis of safety-related motor carrier performance data, collected during the course of inspection or enforcement contact by authorized representatives of the department or any authorized federal, state, or local safety official, in categories, including, but not limited to, driver fatigue, driver fitness, vehicle maintenance, and controlled substances and alcohol use. The department shall also incorporate other safety-related motor carrier performance data in this system, including citations and accident information.
AB 529 renames the safety oversight initiative the “Basic Inspection of Terminal Program” maintaining the acronym BIT.
Benefits for Safe Motor Carriers
One of big the “gives” to industry for supporting this reform is that if your safety data demonstrates good safety management practices are in place, you would not have to go through a terminal inspection every 25 months. The legislation allows up to six years between terminal inspections.
Payment of BIT fees will transfer from the CHP to DMV and be tied to your annual Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) renewal. It is not clear how – or if – motor carriers possessing a non-expiring MCP will be required to pay BIT fees. Motor carriers registered for interstate operations qualify for a non-expiring MCP (they don’t pay annual renewal fees).
While the legislation is silent on requiring all motor carriers get a US DOT number, some industry sources are saying part of the BIT reform process will be requiring all California motor carriers to get a U.S. DOT number. Currently, most states have this requirement for their in-state motor carriers.
There is no fee associated with getting a US DOT number but FMCSA’s current portal will not issue a US DOT number to a California-based motor carrier that checks the box “intrastate” operation only. It will allow issuance of a US DOT number if you check the box “exempt” motor carrier. Another caution is that anyone getting a US DOT number is automatically enrolled in FMCSA’s New Entrant Safety Assurance Program subjecting the carrier to a safety audit.
Much of how the new BIT program will be structured will go through the regulatory process. CHP will be seeking input from industry with the opportunity for California to avoid the missteps that have made FMCSA’s landmark CSA carrier oversight program so controversial. The goal should be not to mimic the federal safety oversight program, but to improve on areas such as not counting all crashes as if the motor carrier was solely responsible.