What You Need to Know: Unified Registration System


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While the Unified Registration System (URS) program’s final compliance date has been temporarily suspended, there are temporary rules in place which must be obeyed. Level I inspections and periodic inspections are a big portion of this regulation. MC numbers and MX numbers are also affected by this program. With low shipping rates, and with no timetable for their turnaround, carriers need to find ways to set themselves apart from the competition. Being up to date with regulations as they take effect, including the URS, is a good first step.

With the URS, carriers must continue vehicle inspections at least once a year, and decals must be affixed to the cab of the vehicle. In the past, Level I inspections at roadside checks were sufficient for the periodic inspection; now, carriers must schedule times for their vehicle’s periodic inspection. When looking for an inspector, carriers still must find a certified CVSA agent to perform the check and a copy of their credentials must be kept on file.

The question becomes, how do carriers keep tires turning and still comply with new regulations? Moreover, with the new orders handed down by President Trump, are there regulations that can be skirted?

First, it is always best to err on the side of caution. When it comes to safety regulations, especially with equipment, it is best to follow through with the requested regulations and not to lean on (or expect) any particular regulation to be withdrawn. When it comes to keeping tires on the pavement, it is best if inspections are scheduled with drivers’ 34 hour restarts or when extra power units are on hand.

Minimum requirements for North American Standard Periodic Inspections include: brake system, coupling devices, exhaust system, fuel system, lighting devices, safe loading, steering mechanism, suspension, frame, tires, wheels and rims, windshield glazing, and windshield wipers. Other systems, or a more in depth look into the above systems, may be required or completed. A record of periodic inspections must be kept within the cab for a minimum of 14 months. If you would like a more in depth look at the rule regarding periodic inspections, you can find that here.

Another portion of the URS taking effect once the suspension is lifted is the usage of Motor Carrier numbers. New authorities will no longer be able to acquire MC or MX numbers once the system becomes fully active. Where DOT numbers use to be free and the MC and MX numbers came with a cost, now the DOT numbers will come with a charge. The fee, at this point, is set at $300.  Those with MC or MX numbers will be allowed to maintain those numbers once the system is online but transferring those numbers or acquiring new numbers will no longer be possible.

The last major initiative of the URS is regulating carriers domiciled in Mexico. Late last year, the FMCSA lifted regulations on long haul drivers domiciled in Mexico. With some backlash, the URS placed some immediate safety provisions on these domiciled drivers that are active immediately. Carriers domiciled in Mexico must have a periodic inspection completed every 90 days to keep their U.S. authority. While Mexico has few regulations regarding long haul drivers, the FMCSA, with help from the CVSA, is ensuring that while sharing our roads, Mexican Carriers are meeting our guidelines. This will do little to quiet concerns regarding safety, but it is a step in the right direction.

We do not know yet when the URS will be fully in place. There are portions of it that need to be followed, such as the periodic inspection portion. While President Trump and new DOT head Elaine Chao are set to roll back regulations, the inspection process is not likely one which will be axed. Carriers need to enact a quick, efficient inspections process to ensure their trucks stay on the road for maximum productivity.

There are plenty of other regulations carriers need to know about, and we plan to cover more of these regulations throughout the year. If you have a regulation you would like to see discussed, email us at mailbag@truckstop.com.