Agency gives drivers online fast lane

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

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Commercial bus and truck operators must update their motor carrier information biennially beginning this year. To help them, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put the process online.

The initiative, announced Jan. 24, is the latest in a series of e-services offered by FMCSA. The agency's do-it-yourself Web site already enables users to enter certificates of insurance, notices of cancellation, surety bonds, trust fund agreements and other evidence of security, to apply for registration and to pay fines.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible," said Dave Longo, FMCSA spokesman. "That's why we're going electronically."

In the past, information came in sporadically via postal mail.

"It wasn't efficient," Longo said. "It wasn't effective. There was no systematic update of carrier information."

Under the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1999, more than 600,000 operators must renew their data.

FMCSA, created by the Transportation Department last year, is mailing packages to operators that include copies of their identification report forms, fact sheets and contact lists for questions.

To submit electronically, the operators need information from the packet, a DOT reference number — also available online — and a valid MasterCard or Visa credit card. Verifications of the cards serve as virtual signatures on the electronic forms. There is no charge.

For those who prefer paper, forms can be printed off the Web and returned to FMCSA the old-fashioned way.

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