1. Ignoring Deadlines
If you get an official notice or a notice from an official, then deal with it. Immediately. Wait until the last day and you are asking for trouble. Once the deadline passes, if you were facing a fine or other sanctions, you may lose your rights to an appeal. Don’t wait until the end of the day: remember the government’s “business day” legally ends at 5 PM not midnight.
Some current problem areas include the Biennial Update or renewal of DOT Number registration or the return of the completed roadside inspection form to the issuing agency (§396.9 Inspection of motor vehicles in operation).
2. Not Filling out Forms — Completely
An incomplete form or unsigned form may be taken for a missing form. If the correct response is “NONE” then write “NONE” not “n/a.” And don’t accept “bad paperwork” from employees.
Common errors are found in applications for employment, log books, driver’s vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs), shipping paperwork and supporting documents for logbooks.
3. Not reading, checking or verifying incoming paperwork
When checking documents, ask yourself “Why?” Why does the results of a drug test have a certain box checked off? Why don’t the supporting documents match the logbook? Why didn’t the driver (or mechanic) sign the DVIR?
You are responsible for every piece of paper crossing your desk. So make every day
your why day.
4. Not Reading the Regulations
“Every employer shall be knowledgeable of and comply with all regulations contained in this subchapter which are applicable to that motor carrier’s operations.” (49 C.F.R. Part 390.3(e) Knowledge of and compliance with the regulations)
Sure it’s dry stuff. But here’s a tip: Start the Federal Motors Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) at 49 C.F.R. Part 390 — that would be Chapter One of any other book . . .
5. Not Reading Into the Regulations Far Enough
The same section goes on to say in (2) “Every driver and employee shall be instructed regarding, and comply with, all applicable regulations contained in this subchapter.” If you are the employer and driver, then all the regulations apply.
Don’t stop reading at the point when it seems the regulations meet our predisposed expectations. Keep going . . .
6. Not Setting up a Tickler File
A tickler file is a term used by office professionals to remind themselves and keep track of upcoming events. For example: vehicle maintenance and inspections, annual inspections, driver annual reviews, driver’s license renewals, medical examiner’s renewals, the biennial update, all of these documents and forms have due dates or renew dates. Loss of ability to operate and fines may occur to employer and/or driver, if any actions take place after the due dates.
There are many apps that can help in this area.
7. Not Doing Your Homework . . .
In business it’s called “due diligence.” There is no requirement for any government agency to inform you of your legal and regulatory responsibilities. Transportation laws may vary from state to state and even city to city. Bridge laws and seasonal load restrictions may restrict when and how much you may carry.
Know what you are allowed to do or not do. Get any special permits, if necessary. If you are not sure what you need for a trip, then ask a specialist.
8. Falling Short of the Regulations
Just as we can’t leap a gap in two jumps, it’s bad policy to ignore regulations or go around them for the sake of expediency. Missing permits, missing paperwork, incomplete files, can lead to trouble, months or years later.
STAR — Stop. Think. Act. Review.
STAR is a safety acronym. In approaching a new work challenge, before rushing in it’s always better to first stop, think it over, before taking action, and then reflect on whether we made the best possible decision.
Many of us make these mistakes due to biases in our thought process.
Availability bias — making a decision based on limited information. “Well, I found it on the Internet, so it must be true . . .”
Anchor bias — making a decision based on an “anchor” fact you have been given. “I won’t vote because the polls show my candidate is down.”
Overconfidence bias — making a decision based on one’s own subject judgement. “I can have it there by tomorrow. No, really . . .”
Confirmation bias — making a decision based on one’s preconceptions, ignoring evidence to the contrary. “The economy will keep growing forever.”
Rush-to-solve bias — making a decision without considering all of the data. “My intuition tells me it’s a go.”
Nobody wants to make mistakes. Mistakes cost time and money. Regulatory mistakes often carry a high price tag: audit risk, the potential for unbelievable fines, and even the loss of ability to engage in certain aspects of your business. There is always a lot going on in any successful business or organization, but skipping or going around regulations to save the bother is not one of the options.