DOT Compliance Checklist: Important Information for a Successful DOT Compliance Safety Audit

It is crucial to understand that the DOT (Department of Transportation) has the authority to conduct audits of your fleet’s records at any given time. Ensuring compliance and having the required documentation readily available is essential to demonstrate that your company has maintained compliance consistently. In the era of Big Data, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has introduced the digital Safety Measurement System (SMS) to monitor the performance of the 5 million truck and bus drivers across the nation. This system collects data from roadside inspections and weigh stations, assigning compliance scores to carriers

Leave Behind the Paper Trail: Embrace Digital Compliance
Traditional paper-based record-keeping can be burdensome, especially when it comes to DOT audits. Fortunately, AIST Safety Consulting offers a comprehensive digital solution to store and manage your trucking compliance documents. With our advanced platform, you can access necessary records instantly, no matter the location of your fleet. Say goodbye to the paper scramble and embrace the efficiency and convenience of our DOT compliance services.

By leveraging our digital system, you’ll maintain a robust SMS score, reducing the likelihood of audits and ensuring that your fleet remains in a state of DOT compliance. When audits do occur, you can rely on AIST Safety Consulting as your trusted digital ally, ready to provide the necessary support and DOT compliance training for a smooth audit process.

Be Prepared for the 4 Types of DOT Compliance Audits
The 4 different types of DOT audits are:

​Compliance Review
This audit focuses on government regulatory compliance and evaluates the company’s safety performance. It is often triggered by a poor SMS score, making it a targeted audit.

New Entrant Audit
This safety review ensures that newly established carriers comply with all safety regulations. Typically, it takes place within the first six months of operations.

Security Audit
This audit requires fleets to document driver training, safety plans, and security measures.

Hazardous Materials Audit
This detailed audit includes a review of training programs, hazardous material labeling procedures, and HAZMAT shipping documentation.

Be Prepared! DOT Compliance Audit Checklist

  • To be well-prepared for a DOT audit, it is important to have the following items in order:
  • A current copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).
  • A current DOT security plan.
  • Records of valid annual inspections for all operational commercial motor vehicles, covering a minimum period of 14 months.
  • Completed driver logs for all drivers, dating back six months.
  • Reports on drug and alcohol testing conducted within the past calendar year.
  • A report on the current status of any driver who has tested positive for drugs or alcohol.
  • A current MCS-90 form providing proof of adequate liability insurance coverage for the entire fleet’s operation.
  • Documentation of the company’s drug and alcohol testing programs and policies.
  • Motor vehicle records (MVRs) for all new and rehired drivers.
  • Records of pre-employment drug tests for all drivers.
  • Proof of CDL licensing for all drivers.
  • Post-trip inspection reports for all commercial vehicles, specifically focusing on the past 90 days when faults or issues have been identified.

The Impact of the DOT Safety Measurement System on Targeted Audits
The DOT Compliance Safety Measurement System is Increasing Targeted Audits
A recent 2018 report at US Compliance Services “Preparing for a DOT Audit”, points out that DOT audits have been on the rise since 2010 thanks to the deployment of the DOT’s digital Safety Measurement System. The report also highlights some of the key fleet performance indicators which can attract a targeted compliance review audit. New entrant audits can even be triggered by a change of carrier services such as expanding from intrastate to interstate commerce. Below are the common triggers for targeted audits including:

​High Crash Rate – The DOT sets the bar for the fleet’s crash rate at 1.5 crashes per million miles over the road. Exceeding that benchmark can trigger a compliance review.
​Critical Crash – A high profile accident or crash which results in any fatality is highly likely to cause a DOT review. If the event makes the news, for example causing a massive traffic jam, the DOT is sure to initiate an audit even if there were no fatalities.
​Citizen Complaints – According to USCS data most of these complaints are generated by disgruntled employees with inside information which can be used against the company’s perceived weak points. Legitimate complaints can also be a trigger when drivers behave badly on the road.
​Random Selection – This one comes down to pure luck of the draw and means that any fleet at any time is subject to a DOT audit. That means that any CMV which has been in the company’s possession for more than 30 days needs to be fully compliant.

Understanding DOT Compliance Audit Results: Ensuring Compliance and Success
After undergoing a DOT audit, your fleet can receive one of three possible marks, each carrying significant implications for your operations. DOT audits can result in only one of 3 marks.

Satisfactory: Congratulations, you have passed the audit! However, it’s crucial to remember that this mark only signifies compliance for the time being. Continuous preparation is necessary as the DOT can conduct audits at any moment.

Conditional: When your fleet receives a conditional mark, it indicates that there are no immediate safety risks. However, fines and insurance rate hikes could still be imposed, highlighting areas that require improvement. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to address the identified deficiencies promptly and implement corrective actions.

Unsatisfactory: This mark carries significant consequences, including expensive fines and the possibility of being designated as “Out of Service” for severe violations identified by the auditor. It is crucial to rectify the identified compliance issues promptly to avoid further penalties and maintain the integrity of your operations.

Achieving Success in DOT Compliance Audits with AIST Safety Consulting
At AIST Safety Consulting, we offer real-time fleet-wide digital DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports), customizable forms, and comprehensive checklists designed to optimize your fleet’s safety, performance, and DOT compliance.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at AIST Safety Consulting to learn more about how our solutions can support your fleet’s compliance objectives.