DOT Compliance Companies & Services- Everything You Need to Know
The United States Department of Transportation has a set list of rules and regulations that govern all aspects of commercial vehicles to keep vehicles, drivers, workers, and the general public safe. If you operate a commercial vehicle in the United States, whether one or a fleet, you must comply with these rules. The DOT regulations apply to vehicles that travel between states, but some states may have additional regulations for intrastate motor vehicles.
All commercial vehicles registered with the Department of Transportation and bearing a USDOT number fall under the DOT Compliance umbrella.
Some of the vehicles that fall under this category are:
Vehicles that transport more than eight passengers, including the driver, for money or any other compensation in return.
Vehicles that transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, at a time.
Vehicles used for transporting hazardous waste or other materials (as specified by the DOT).
Vehicles whose gross weight rating or gross weight combination adds up to 10,001 pounds or more.
Components of DOT Compliance
DOT compliance bears a large set of rules and regulations, and companies are expected to know them all. For easy discerning, the regulations around DOT compliance can be broken down into two main categories: fleet compliance and driver compliance.
Fleet compliance covers each commercial vehicle within your fleet that is registered with the DOT and bears a USDOT number.
To make things easy, maintain a compliance checklist to make it easier for you to review requirements fast and keep abreast of everything.
Some of the main items on your to-do list for Fleet Compliance:
Keep a current copy of FMCSA rules at all times.
Mark each vehicle clearly with its unique USDOT number.
Conduct inspection for all vehicles before and after each trip and keep clear documentation.
Document clearly any incidents on the road involving your fleet.
Maintain a regular vehicle maintenance program and document all activities from each session.
Every driver who operates a USDOT-registered vehicle is required to be compliant at all times. As with fleet or trucking compliance, you should be one step ahead of audits at all times, maintaining up-to-date documentation.
A few areas of focus to maintain driver compliance:
Make sure each driver carries a copy of FMCSA rules and refers to it at all times.
Keep a signed agreement from each driver confirming that they have read and understood and will abide by their responsibilities as provided in the FMCSA rules.
Carry out proper screening for drug and alcohol abuse as a pre-employment requirement for each driver and retain documentation (if possible, include any record of previous drug or alcohol abuse).
Maintain clear documentation regarding driver qualifications and safety history.
Make sure all your drivers log hours of service (HOS) for each trip/day of work.
Conduct random drug testing on all drivers and keep clear record of all results.
None of the provided checklists are comprehensive. DOT requirements and regulations keep evolving, and you should remain abreast of the changes at all times.
Consider creating your own checklist for your company and make them as detailed and relevant to your operations as possible. This will help in your preparedness for any DOT Compliance audits that may come up in the course of your operations.
Getting Ready for a DOT Compliance Audit
The Department of Transportation conducts compliance audits to confirm that each company is meeting the safety trucking and driver requirements. The audit can be a routine check or occasioned by an incident; it is well within your rights to request an explanation why you are being audited.
If your company is slated for a DOT Compliance audit, you will need to prepare ahead of time to work towards a smooth process. You will likely receive notification letters a week or two in advance within which to collect some preliminary information.
Once you receive a letter, you should respond to its requirements immediately whether with information on your driver list, drug and alcohol testing records, vehicle list, corporate offices, periodical revenue, or any other data. It also pays to maintain complete, organized and up-to-date records and documentation at all times to make the audit process easier.
DOT compliance is something that should be reviewed on a regular basis at your company to make sure you are meeting or even exceeding all the requirements. Preparedness is key, and regular housekeeping is a sure way to mitigate any risks both to your business operations and also around safety for both your fleet and your team.