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What Does DOT Compliance Mean?

Aug 21, 2023
DOT Compliance
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All companies that operate on the roads will fall under the Department of Transportation (DOT), including drivers, the fleet, and the trucking company itself. These parties must prioritize safety protocols throughout all transactions and business operations, but what does DOT compliance mean in terms of practical rule-following? 

In addition to following the trucking company compliance checklist, the DOT regulations cover the transportation of goods and other cargo for safer roadways. Here, Federal Motor Carrier Authority Filings provides more details about how your company can stay on top of things.

What Does DOT Compliance Mean?

Compliance with the regulations and standards set by the Department of Transportation has many aspects to consider. For example, this agency requires that all trucking companies willingly submit to a wide range of expectations, including the following as requested:

  • Inspections
  • Substance tests
  • Generalized safety protocols
  • Regulations for a vehicle that transports hazardous materials
  • Best practices for passenger transportation and more

Compliance also extends to companies and drivers obtaining the proper permits. Otherwise, they risk their reputation and credentials essential to legal vehicle operation state-wide and nationally.

Examples Of DOT Rules And Regulations

What does DOT compliance mean in terms of specific regulations? Some definitive examples include the following:

  • Hours of service: In the interests of safety, HOS refers to the length of time a driver can work before taking a break. Compliant drivers will break for at least 30 minutes for every eight hours of driving and cap their shifts with long rest periods.
  • Vehicle inspections: DOT officers may request to inspect fleet vehicles to ensure they can operate safely. They also check if the trucking company supplies regular maintenance.
  • Vehicle maintenance: Companies and drivers should inspect their vehicles before and after transporting goods. If they encounter mechanical issues or other obstacles, they shouldn’t drive again until maintenance happens.
  • Qualified drivers: Companies should perform background checks and substance screenings to check potential drivers’ qualifications before hiring them. 
  • Substance screenings: Drivers should submit to screenings for drug and alcohol use throughout their careers. Impaired driving risks accidents, injuries, and property damage.
  • Cargo security: Drivers should secure their cargo before embarking on a trip, checking all tie-downs, latches, and other equipment central to maintaining cargo security. 
  • Recording and reporting: Trucking requires a hefty amount of paperwork, especially if the company wants to demonstrate that its drivers follow all safety regulations.
  • Updated permits: Companies must update many permits and licenses annually. Staying current on these requirements prevents complications.

Who Should Comply With DOT Regulations?

The DOT will hold any company or driver participating in interstate commerce accountable to its regulations. The term “interstate commerce” refers to transportation beyond state lines. However, most trucking companies participate in interstate operations and have to meet DOT regulations. 

The DOT also has requirements surrounding the following:

  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials
  • Vehicles with a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds
  • Vehicles transporting 16 or more passengers without compensation
  • Vehicles transporting 9 or more passengers for compensation

So, even vehicle operators beyond trucking companies may have to comply with specific DOT protocols to avoid violations.

Examples Of DOT Violations

What does DOT compliance mean to those who want to avoid hassles on the road? Some common DOT violations you can avoid include the following: 

  • Not following federal and state traffic laws: When drivers flaunt common traffic laws, they step over DOT regulations. Breaking traffic laws endangers fleet drivers and citizens alike. 
  • Incomplete record keeping: Companies and drivers with lackadaisical record-keeping will eventually clash with a DOT officer requesting an inspection. Organized paperwork is key.
  • Failed illicit substances tests: Drivers should never operate commercial vehicles under the influence of alcohol and mind-altering substances. And they should willingly undergo testing.
  • Unsecured cargo: Drivers can easily forget simple things like cargo security, but this is one of the easiest violations to avoid.
  • Operating beyond HOS parameters: Speedier cargo runs are tempting. However, complying with HOS protects a driver’s health and safety, as well as everyone else on the road. 

How To Avoid DOT Violations

Can your trucking company and its drivers avoid violating the DOT’s requirements? Implementing the following strategies could help:

  1. Use digital avenues to keep records and update permits. Digital record keeping and permit updates ensure easy access and timely submissions.
  2. Create comprehensive checklists. Standard checklists should include all inspection and safety points to streamline your drivers’ productivity.
  3. Maintain your fleet. Don’t put off repairs. 
  4. Keep drivers compliant. Noncompliance affects their record and your company’s bottom line. 
  5. Hire drivers with a clean safety history. Thoroughly review each candidate’s qualifications and previous violations before hiring them. 
  6. Accept DOT inspections. Don’t get defensive about a DOT officer’s request to inspect your fleet, paperwork, and other company assets.

Keep Your Fleet Compliant With FMCA Filings

What does DOT compliance mean? Besides following all safety protocols and updating paperwork and permits promptly, it also means avoiding common DOT compliance errors. FMCA Filings can also assist you with streamlined permit registration and other support. Chat with one of our Live Agents today for more information! 

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