Has this happened to you? Its late on a busy Wednesday afternoon and you are completing your day when you receive another call—except this call is different from the others you handled today. This call causes you anxiety as you’re unsure how to proceed. The call is from a safety investigator for the Department of Transportation who states they will be in your office the following Tuesday to perform a complete compliance review.
You receive a list of all the documents they will be reviewing during the audit, several of which you are not familiar. You feel your blood pressure increasing and begin to wish you were somewhere else, but you’re not.
You may wonder why this happened and what factors triggered the DOT Audit. This can vary, but reasons often include CSA BASIC scores that are high or in alert status, a high crash rate prompting the DOT to look into contributing causes, or a complaint from an employee or member of the public regarding alleged lack of safety practices or controls within your company.
If this stressful situation is something you wish to better prepare for or avoid, one of the best things you can do is familiarize yourself with the documentation the DOT will be auditing. You will probably realize you are doing most of it already, although some may be informal and undocumented. The key is to make the it a formalized and documented part of the management of your trucking operation. A great place to start is conducting your own internal DOT Carrier Compliance Questionnaire. Going through this questionnaire will identify problems and guide you toward the goal of enhancing safer and more profitable trucking operations for your company.
Let’s be honest—trucking is a very capital-intensive business, and you have to be efficient to be profitable. It simply is not efficient or profitable to put an unqualified driver behind the wheel of expensive equipment or to not have management practices in place to enhance safe, profitable trucking operations. Taking a little time to focus on safe operations today can increase efficiency and help you better prepare to respond to or avoid audit problems tomorrow.
For further information, you can access the DOT Carrier Compliance Questionnaire within Acuity’s Motor Carrier Tool Box.