Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. Someone from the DOT is at your office door looking for a manager. DOT audits may be unannounced. A recent DOT publication said, “As planned, the safety inspection caught the owner . . . off guard.”

Requested records need to be produced upon DOT request. Willfully obstructing FMSCA’s access to records needed to determine the company’s safety compliance is illegal. Making any intentional false statements to the DOT is illegal, too.

The DOT regulations “prohibit a motor carrier, its agents, officers, represen­tatives, or employees from making, or causing to be made, a fraudulent or inten­tionally false statement on any required document or record, to include driver’s records of duty status.” There are serious implications for not following the DOT rules.

What’s the best approach? There is simply no right way to do the wrong thing. Make a good faith attempt at limiting risk through compliance. Maintain a system of checks and balances. The wrong steps early-on can lead to later difficulties.

Finally, if audited by the DOT, don’t sign anything that you doesn’t seem right.

Black Flag Bandits

If you are just starting up, beware of phone calls from unethical false flag or black flag telemarketers who claim to represent the US DOT or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or claim to have a “special in” with the DOT. One firm says, “We are a full service operation for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,” implying that one is talking directly with the DOT.

Others may claim they can “design bold strategies to defeat federal safety inspections,” or that their specialty is “polishing” or sanitizing documents and records to avoid DOT “red flags.”

As the old saying goes, trust but verify. Make an effort to identify and know who you are telephonically discussing your critical business matters with.



Getting Ready for 2013

New DOT registrants or “carriers” — short for ‘motor carriers’ can expect (currently within 18 months, but under MAP-21 — within 12 months for new property carriers and 120 days for new passenger carriers after July 9, 2013) a “Safety Audit.” Carriers already in the system do not get a DOT Audit, but instead, if flagged, would receive a “compliance review” (CR). Depending on the intensity, the DOT also calls this review or audit an:

– Offsite Investigation;
– Onsite Focused Investigation; or
– OnSite Comprehensive Investigation.

These investigations are known as “interventions”. This is part of CSA — short for the DOT’s enforcement program called Compliance, Accountability, Safety.

How should one prepare for the a Safety Audit, Compliance Review or other Intervention?

(1) Know your state’s law.

Some of the DOT required records may also be required by your state, whether or not your vehicle or fleet leaves the state. Most states have adopted the federal regulations, and may have their own safety review or procedures. Find your state’s most recent “Motor-Carrier Guide” on the Internet.

(2) Obtain a copy of the federal regulations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are found in most truckstops or available for purchase on-line. This is an audit item.

(3) Organize

Make sure your records are organized, a safety management system is in place (organize your paperwork into files or binders), and records are updated, be it daily or some other timely manner as required by law.

Know what records are important, what records are essential, and what records are critical. A lot of DOT required forms need to be signed, be it by drivers, supervisors, mechanics or whomever. Dates and times are very important. Doing paperwork later or when you get ’round to it just won’t make the cut.

(4) Check things out

Is your vehicle or fleet roadworthy? According to some experts, over 40% of commercial motor vehicles should not go out on the road. Some of the oldest truck fleets since World War II are now running US highways. Older trucks need more maintenance; newer trucks have more systems and need more upkeep.

(5) Prepare

Is your driver prepared? Is the driver familiar with the federal regulations? Required paperwork?  Are you? Has the driver been trained on what forms he/she needs, how to fill them out and how the paperwork flow needs to go?

Over forty percent of DOT audits end in failure and over half of audits result in some violations (requiring corrections or even a re-audit). Only you can improve your odds.

Please let us know if we can assist in making 2013 your best year ever. Please visit: