How does a drive-away operation determine the number of “Power Units” to list on the Motor Carrier Census filing (MCS-150)?

This question came up during the loss control visit at a drive-away operation. Their most recent MCS-150 census filing listed over 100+ power units, yet they only owned a few commercial vehicles. Their reasoning was “we need a higher fleet count in order to offset any violations we receive so our CSA numbers stay in line.” This operation averages over 30+ vehicle transfers every day for various truck & bus manufacturers, dealerships and rental companies. 

We received many good ideas and feedback from which we’ve selected the following from our representatives in Oregon and Minnesota which we feel best and most accurate as the cite the actual FMCSR instructions for how to fill out the vehicle portion of the MCS-150, and possible violations for inaccurate reporting, specifically as applies to the number of Power Units.

Enter the total number of vehicles owned, term leased and trip leased, that are, or can be, operational the day this form is completed. Therefore this operation should list the total number of commercial power units they own + the number of trip-leased on the day they complete the MCS-150 for the total number of power units. This applies only to vehicles actually driven, not to include any piggy-backed vehicles transported as part of the single trip/load. Please note that “average PUs” for each carrier for purposes of Safety Management System (SMS) are calculated using; (i) the carrier’s current number of PUs, (ii) the number of PUs the carrier had six months ago, and (iii) the number of PUs the carrier had 18 months ago. The average PU calculation is shown below:

Further commentary included that the operation would (also) have to have a signed trip lease agreement in the vehicle(s) they are transporting, and a warning that making or causing to make fraudulent or intentionally false entry on the MCS-150A, MCS-150B, or MCS-150C (e.g. number of vehicles) is a violation of FMCSR 390.35 Secondary 390.19(a). 

Thanks to everyone for their feedback!