“Can the DOT shut me down?” and other recent questions

Out of Service Order

Out of Service Order

“Can the DOT shut me down?”

There are various circumstances that lead to the issuance of an “Out of Service” (OOS) order by the DOT.

“New Applicants” must undergo a “DOT Safety Audit.” One client, a small contractor, missed his audit appointment because of an emergency. He was told by his auditor that he could reapply for a new number in 30 days. He was fortunate in that his truck was already parked on-site and he didn’t need to drive it for a month or so. In the first three months of 2010 over 44% of New Entrants failed their Safety Audit, said Anne Ferro, FMCSA Administrator, when she testified on April 28, 2010 to the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation.

Since the introduction of the new CSA enforcement program, the DOT now conducts a streamlined audit called a ‘focused review’ and this modified audit may reduce a satisfactory rating to a conditional or an unsatisfactory rating. A motor carrier rated “unsatisfactory” is prohibited from operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle. This applies to (interstate) passenger carriers (16 passengers+driver), carriers of hazardous materials (HM) in quantities requiring placarding that operate in interstate commerce, and all other motor carriers operating in interstate commerce.

Under § 385.13(d)(2)— If a motor carrier’s intrastate operations are declared out of service by a State, the FMCSA must issue an order placing out of service the carrier’s operations in interstate commerce. Likewise, some states apply a DOT’s interstate OOS order to intrastate operations.

To remedy the downgrade resulting in an OOS:

(1) take action to correct the deficiencies which led to the downgraded safety rating, then (2) make a request in writing (petition) for a review of rating to the FMCSA Service Center for the geographic area where the carrier maintains its principal place of business. Because there is a deadline, these actions need to be done immediately.

How do I display my US DOT Number on the Vehicle?

US DOT Number

49 CFR, § 390.21— Marking of self-propelled CMVs (the “Marking Rule“) says:

(b) Nature of marking. The marking must display the following information:
(1) The legal name or a single trade name of the motor carrier operating the self-propelled CMV, as listed on the motor carrier identification report (Form MCS-150 – [when you applied for the DOT number]).
(2) The identification number issued by FMCSA to the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider, preceded by the letters “USDOT.”
(3) If the name of any person other than the operating carrier appears on the CMV, the name of the operating carrier must be followed by the information required by paragraphs (b)(1), and (2) of this section, and be preceded by the words “operated by.”
(c) Size, shape, location, and color of marking. The marking must—
(1) Appear on both sides of the self-propelled CMV;
(2) Be in letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed;
(3) Be readily legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet (15.24 meters) while the CMV is stationary.
The actual lettering may vary in size from 2 1/2 inch to 4 inches high, depending on the color of the lettering and the color of the vehicle. As long as you can read it from 50 feet, it will meet the standard. The U.S. DOT Number is generally placed near the bottom of the door and the company name in the middle. Check if your state has other ‘marking requirements.’

A set of magnetic signs may be used in lieu of permanent lettering.

Is Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors required?

We received an “urgent compliance notice” from Supervisor  Compliance Training Department stating that it is mandatory to take a course in Drug & Alcohol Awareness Training … as a tiny little footnote at the bottom of the letter it states: If you are a single owner operator or you have had this training before, then  you are not required to take the training.

From what I have seen so far in your book I do not think we have to do this as we do not have drivers with commercial drivers licenses, we only have one vehicle, only transport our own equipment, etc.

Can you confirm for me if this is something we need to get certified in or not? Thanks,

Organizations having no Commercial Driver License (CDL) drivers are not required to have the Supervisor’s Reasonable Suspicion Training.

A single owner operator of a CDL type vehicle (not employing another driver), is not required to have this training as he or she would be aware of his/her own drug/alcohol use.

A person who has had this training previously in their career is not required to have this training.

A person may not actually have the “job title” of Supervisor to be required to have this training. Training is required for at least one person in the organization who has the role of a supervisor, manager, etc., of a CDL type driver or drivers.

If you are enrolled in a DOT drug/alcohol testing program, your program provider may offer this training. Some professional or trade associations also offer this training. To learn more, please visit: http://www.part380.com/supervisorstraining.html

Your questions are most welcome and help us create a Learning Culture that reinforces learning.


Is a post-trip inspection required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report

The Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report. Actual forms may vary.

After each trip (or the end of a 24-hour period) a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) form (per 49 CFR, Part 396.11), needs to be completed for each Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driven, noting and documenting any vehicle “faults” or defects in need of repair. A trailer can be a CMV as well, a non-motorized vehicle, distinct from the pulling or “power unit.”

49 CFR Part 396.11 says:

a) Report required. (1) Motor carriers. Every motor carrier shall require its drivers to report, and every driver shall prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day’s work on each vehicle operated . . .

b) Report content. The report shall identify the vehicle and list any defect or deficiency discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown. If no defect or deficiency is discovered  . . .

If No Faults/Defects/Deficiencies are Noted:

(1) the DVIR report shall indicate such;
(2) the Driver must sign the report;
(3) A legible copy of previous DVIR must be on vehicle;
(4) the Original copy needs to be retained by the organization or company for 3 months.

If Faults/Defects/Deficiencies are Noted:
(1) the DVIR must list noted defects (any faults affecting safety);
(2) the Driver must sign report;
(3) A legible copy of previous DVIR must be on vehicle;
(4) Motor carrier shall certify that all defects were repaired or not needed
prior to placing vehicle in service (e.g., a mechanic must certify in writing with his/her signature on the DVIR)
(5) the Original copy retained for 3 months (i.e., placed in the master file for that particular commercial motor vehicle or CMV).

Common DVIR issues/violations:
(a) the driver fails to make a report for each vehicle driven; recall that a trailer is a non-motorized vehicle, too, and a driver may pull several trailers around in a 24-hour day or during the course of a single trip;
(b) the driver fails to sign the report or other important data is missing (i.e., license plate or unit number);
(c) the reporting mechanic fails to sign the report;
(d) reports are misfiled, misplaced or otherwise part of a system without good document control(s);
(f) the company sits on a repair problem without fixing it immediately;
(g) the driver doesn’t know how to inspect a CMV (how to “inspect to fail” not “inspect to pass” the vehicle; see: http://www.part380.com/si393.html) or how to properly fill out the form;
(h) the driver has “check-the-box-itis” and fails to utilize the “Remarks” area to help document his or her observations/inspection(s) during the trip. Use the remarks to document things like: “added oil” or “top-off fluid levels,” “adjusted mirror,” “wiped off reflectors,” “changed a light-bulb.” This extra-step is a good habit that could make a difference later not only in a road-side stop or DOT audit, in favor of both the driver and/or organization, but some day in court. Note any new damage or “mystery damage” to the vehicle.

Prepare the DVIR on a separate form (one for each vehicle) so it can be properly filed and controlled. Forms or booklets/pads are sold at most truck stops (or see http://www.jjkeller.com and ask for their transportation catalog). Some companies bolt a special clipboard on the dash next to the driver for better organization.  One copy of the DVIR report may stay in the truck (this is not a requirement), however, the original copy (the “signature copy”) is what must be processed and filed, and kept for at least 90 days in the master vehicle file.

Failing to make or properly complete a required DVIR can result up to $1,000 DOT fine, per vehicle, per day. It’s a common violation, but one that can be easily eliminated with new habits, protecting the driver*, the public and the organization.

The DVIR – don’t leave home without it.

* When I train drivers, I tell them, The insurance is on the truck. A driver’s main protection from citations, violations or even career-ending lawsuits is to “document simple” any vehicle safety issues (including those, according to the regulations, “reported to the driver”).  In this way, a driver has used the regulations to protect both himself and the organization.