DOT Audits: 6 Areas to Address and 8 Pitfalls to Avoid

Violations Include: Alcohol Test Failures, Driving Without a License or Insurance

DOT Audits

Department of Transportation (DOT) audits are unlikely to be fun, but if you’ve made preparations ahead of time and have your paperwork in order, they can be lot less painful, experts say.

DOT compliance pro Mark Dixon shows you how to prepare for an audit in his webinar for AudioSolutionz, “How to Survive a DOT Audit: DOT Compliance Like a Pro.” Dixon addresses the full array of critical topics including: driver qualification files, past-employment verification, truck maintenance and accident report documentation, workers comp, corrective action reporting, and more.

If you are in the trucking industry and/or subject to DOT audits, knowing how to comply with the above requirements is critical.

And the best defense against getting caught off guard is great preparation.

“DOT audits are scary no matter how organized your fleet, and any carrier transporting at least 10,000 pounds of cargo across state lines can receive one at a moment’s notice,” explained Keep Truckin, an industry blog.

What to Expect DOT to Scrutinize

DOT audits cover six inspection categories:

  • General documentation
  • Driver documentation
  • Operational logs and supporting documents
  • Vehicle reports for inspections, repairs, and maintenance
  • Hazardous materials documentation
  • Records of all drive accidents and injuries

A great way to assess your readiness for an audit is to check your organization’s risk for common mistakes.

There are a handful of key violations to watch out for when DOT comes calling, said industry consultants Foley Services. Those include:

  • Any type of drug and alcohol test violation
  • Using a driver without a valid license
  • Using a driver deemed medically unqualified
  • Operating a CMV with insufficient insurance
  • Operating a vehicle declared out-of-service during a roadside inspection before repairs are made
  • Operating a CMW which has not undergone required DOT inspections
  • Record falsification

When to Expect Inspectors

How do you know when DOT may come calling? You don’t, said Progressive Reporting, but there are some triggers.

“One of the most common reasons [for a compliance audit] is poor CSA BASIC Scores,” said Progressive. “Other reasons include: a carrier’s request to change a safety rating, a major accident, an investigation of potential safety regulations violations, a complaint investigation, or other evidence of safety violations.”

Plus, you can expect DOT to return if you made a poor first impression. The agency’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) “tends to monitor companies who did not pass the [New Entrant Safety Audit] at the get-go,” warns Foley.

What’s worse: “Unlike the New Entrant Safety Audit, a compliance review may result in substantial financial penalties depending on the amount and severity of the violations found,” Foley added.

DOT has published a new entrant Safety Audit Resource Guide which can help companies understand what the agency is looking for in audits. Dixon says you should start working on your compliance now—don’t wait until DOT inspectors say they are on their way.

To join the conference or see a replay, order a DVD or transcript, or read more
Jeff Schmerker
About Jeff Schmerker
Jeff has extensive professional experience writing on a variety of topics, from pharmaceutical research to environmental history. He has published more than a half-dozen books, and he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and restaurant reviewer. He lives in Missoula, Montana with his wife and son.