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November 4, 2022

Trucking DOT Audit – Importance, Trigger & How To Prepare For It?

A trucking audit is arguably one of the scariest things that a motor carrier or a trucking company might have to face during their lifetime of business in this sector. It is one of the most dreaded activities that they have to participate in, in any case. This is exactly what makes it so critical and nerve-racking for every motor carrier. A DOT audit can happen anytime. If you have not been following FMCSA regulations, you might be in a bit of a problem. A typical DOT audit is going to have primarily 6 categories that you should be aware of. But let us first understand what these trucking DOT audits cover. A typical DOT audit is going to comprise 6 categories which are: 

  1. General 
  2. Driver 
  3. Operational 
  4. Vehicle 
  5. Hazardous Materials 
  6. Accidents

There are recordkeeping and operational mandates given by the federal motor carrier safety administration and the US department of transportation. Every motor carrier is responsible for knowing what they are and keeping their business compliant throughout the year.

Understanding The 6 Categories Of DOT Audit And Preparing For Them Beforehand

1. General DOT Audit

A General DOT audit usually comprises reviewing and examining the documentation related to the liability insurance of the business. You must also make Forms MCS-90 (382.15) available for review and examination. You will also be required to produce an accident register for the DOT review officer. It is advised to associate with a third-party administrator so that they can help you keep a track of all your dispatches, payments, late payments, invoices, customer information, and other critical details that will help you pass the general DOT audit.

2. Driver-Related Audit

All commercial motor vehicle drivers working for your company must have valid driver’s licenses. You much also make sure that they have undergone a strict drug and alcohol testing program. This is what the driver-related audit is going to determine among several other things such as pre-employment record, post-accident drug and alcohol testing, random drug and alcohol testing results, reasonable suspicion training and results, among several other important factors.

3. Operations Review

An operations review is also very critical and all commercial motor vehicle businesses are subject to this audit. The department of transportation requires you to keep a record of your hours of service along with 6 months of driver logs and all the supporting documents that are required to remain compliant. The department is going to look for any violations with the form and manner of recordkeeping and any mistakes in hours of service in addition to false information and the correctness of your invoices and maintenance logs as well.

4. Vehicle Audit

A typical DOT audit is never complete without a vehicle audit. The review officer is going to check for any repairs or maintenance that have been done on the vehicle. You should provide all the necessary information to the officer along with the company number and the license plate number. The model and your tire size and the owner’s name including the VIN should also be provided to the officer. He is also going to inspect 14 months of inspection reports that should be kept in the vehicle itself.

5. Hazardous Materials

The audit performed for hazardous materials is very essential to maintain the safety of your workplace. It is going to include a thorough inspection of the storage and the licenses that are required to transport hazardous materials. The necessary placards and labels will also be inspected.

6. Accidents Review And Audit

You are required to maintain a record of all your accidents and injuries. The driver start and stop times must also be recorded accurately. The review officer is going to check all these records during a DOT accident audit.

How To Pass The Trucking DOT Audit Like A Pro

The key to passing your DOT audit is to have the right paperwork at the right place. You shouldn’t have to scramble for the relevant documents when the DOT review officer arrives. How well you can pay attention to every small detail is going to determine whether you fail or pass the audit. You can get assistance from your third-party administrator when preparing for your DOT audit.

Essential Factors To Keep In Mind When Preparing For A DOT Review / Audit

  • Always maintain regular and readable records of your business operations and activities 
  • Make sure that all your trucks, trailers, and automobiles are working fine 
  • When you choose your drivers, go through their background, discipline, work ethics, and experience 
  • You must also maintain consistent proof of hours of service for all your drivers 
  • Make sure to take corrective actions in case of any internal violations 
  • Create a safety practices plan for all your drivers and safety-sensitive position holders

Now You Should Also Be Aware Of The Many Triggers That Can Call For An Unexpected DOT Audit

Crashes And Accidents

As you very well know that the department of transportation and the FMCSA are always going to monitor your activities. So even one accident is going to alert the authorities and that can trigger a compliance review almost immediately.

Uncalled-For Activities

If there have been any uncalled-for activities on the part of your drivers or motor carriers and upon the discovery of the same during roadside inspections, your vehicles can be put out of service.

Complaint By A Civilian

If there has been a complaint against you or your driver by anyone whether it is a corporate entity or a civilian, it is going to trigger an immediate review by the authorities.

New Entrant Safety Audit Failure

Also, if you fail to follow the regulations laid down by the FMCSA during a new entrant safety audit, that will call for a compliance review later.

Follow Up

If there has been an audit in the past and regardless of whether it was satisfactory or not, the FMCSA may choose to pay you a visit for a follow-up review.

Remember The Best Practices

In the end, it is always better to associate with a third-party compliance administrator or facilitator. They can help you follow the best practices and can keep you compliant throughout the year. They will keep you prepared and prevent any DOT audits from putting you in a tough spot in the first place. A third-party administrator can also keep you up to date by conducting regular mock DOT audits and help you maintain the safety of everyone in your place.

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