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Whether you have one commercial vehicle or an entire fleet, DOT compliance should be a top priority. Set forth by the United States Department of Transportation, this set of rules governs all aspects of commercial vehicles to ensure the safety of drivers, workers, and the general public.
Here’s what you need to know about DOT compliance to keep your company out of trouble.
DOT compliance isn’t required for all commercial vehicles. Only commercial vehicles that must be registered with the Department of Transportation and bear a USDOT number are required to comply with DOT compliance.
This may include the following:
These requirements apply to vehicles that travel between states, but some states will have additional regulations for intrastate motor vehicles. If you aren’t sure if your vehicle is expected to maintain DOT compliance, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website for more information.
DOT compliance spans a lengthy set of rules and regulations, and companies are expected to know them all. In general, DOT compliance can be broken down into two categories: fleet compliance and driver compliance.
Fleet compliance applies to every vehicle in your fleet that is registered with the DOT. It’s helpful to keep a compliance checklist on hand that makes it easier to review requirements at a glance and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
A few general guidelines you might consider:
Driver compliance applies to every driver of DOT-registered vehicles. Just like with fleet compliance, it can be useful to keep a checklist for driver compliance requirements to ensure you’re hitting all points.
Consider the following guidelines when pursuing driver compliance:
Each of these checklists cover the basics of DOT compliance, but they shouldn’t be considered comprehensive. Companies should consider creating their own checklists that are more detailed and relevant to their operations.
The Department of Transportation conducts compliance audits to ensure each company is meeting requirements. The reasons for triggering an audit can vary, and it’s within your rights to ask why you’re being audited.
Companies that are selected for an audit will need to prepare ahead of time to ensure a smooth process. Letters notifying you of compliance are usually sent out a week or two in advance to collect some preliminary information. When you receive a letter, it’s ideal you respond immediately. The letter may require information pertaining to your driver list, vehicle list, drug and alcohol testing records, corporate offices, revenue, and other data.
This is where having complete, organized records can work in your favor. You can locate requested information quickly and respond to the audit without delay.
DOT compliance should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure you’re meeting or exceeding the minimum requirements. Not meeting the standards could result in costly fines. But more importantly, it could put your workers at risk of an accident that could otherwise have been prevented.
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