Keys to DOT Audit Success: the Mindset


You Get the Notice

Somebody, usually from a state DOT agency, or occasionally from the U.S. DOT wants to look at some or all of your records. In fact, there are over 60 (sixty) regulating U.S. government agencies that issue compliance regulations. Insurance companies also may review your policies, procedures, and work-safety files.

Don’t panic. The best way to approach any audit is by having the proper mindset.

Mindset has been defined as:

The established set of attitudes held by someone.


A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.


The thought processes characteristic of an individual or group: ethos, mentality, mind, psyche, psychology.

What are a few things that should be kept in mind during a DOT audit? Here are a few suggestions.

The Audit Mindset

1.) Even the best get audited.

2.) Keep everyone informed of the upcoming audit. If not informed, staff might assume something is wrong.

3.) The auditor is there to do his or her job; help them to help you.

4.) The key to audit success is preparation.

5.) Prepare on a daily basis, not the day before the audit.

6.) If you are not prepared, things start to happen: control of the situation rapidly shifts to the auditor, turning the audit into an emotional event.

7.) If you are not prepared, you may not have necessary documents ready, or are ready to supply unnecessary documents, overloading the auditor.

a. Examples of “information overload” include:

• An accident register recording all accidents and incidents, including non-DOT incidents.
• Providing three months of records, when only one month was asked for.
• Accident files with too much paperwork or details.
• Driver qualification files with other paperwork of a personal nature or documentation not required by the auditor.

b. Tip: Hand over only what was asked for: nothing more, nothing less.

8.) Conduct a “re-audit” as you are audited: keep a list of all documentation provided.

9.) A key component of DOT audit preparation is to know the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (including Hazardous Materials Regulations, if applicable). Know your rights. Know your duties and responsibilities.

10.) Nobody is perfect. Nobody is expected to be perfect.

(Source: DOT Safety Audit Guide management program)

Top Tip: You are never required to sign an “admissions statement” that reads, “This statement is being made of my own free will . . .”

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta

John Taratuta is an independent Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599 Twitter @part380com