In order to ensure safety and compliance, the Department of Transportation (DOT) reviews companies that are subject to its regulations. If your trucking company is undergoing a DOT audit, it can be stressful and confusing. Luckily, HDS Safety Services can help you navigate this process.
What is a DOT Audit?
There are multiple types of audits the DOT may perform. The similarity is that all of these check whether a company is following the necessary guidelines. If the auditor discovers any violations, your motor carrier may be subject to large fines or interruptions to your operation.
The types of audits and when they occur:
- New Entrant: This occurs during the first 18 months of operation and ensures compliance with all DOT regulations.
- Targeted:A targeted audit occurs when there have been red flags related to compliance. One example is if a motor carrier’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Score is too high. This is a percentile measure with 100 as the worst performance and 0 as the best. Crashes, hours-of-service violations, and other factors can raise the score. You can check your company’s safety rating using the CSA site.
- Compliance Review: This is a general review of how well a company is following regulations. It can sometimes occur due to an issue such as a serious crash or citizen complaint. However, you can also be randomly selected for a DOT audit at any time.
This article focuses on compliance reviews, but HDS Safety Services can also assist you with preparing for a new entrant or targeted audit. If you have questions about your specific situation, please reach out for more information.
The Compliance Review Process
If your company has been selected for an audit, the DOT will contact you by phone. They will let you know if the audit will be off-site or on-site and will tell you which documents to send in advance. You will also need to have certain documents ready to present during an on-site audit. The auditor will review various aspects of your company’s safety performance. They may request additional documents after the on-site visit.
After the review process is complete, you will receive a report and one of three ratings: satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory. A satisfactory mark means your company is compliant with DOT requirements and regulations. A conditional rating indicates that the auditor discovered a violation, but does not consider your motor carrier to be a significant safety risk. You might need to pay fines and your insurance costs may increase, but you can submit a Safety Management Plan and correct the issue to raise your rating to satisfactory. An unsatisfactory mark means that there were significant safety violations. This will almost always result in large fines and if the violations were especially severe, the DOT could designate your motor carrier as “out of service.” You will need to submit a Safety Management Plan within a set time frame to avoid further consequences.
Preparing For a DOT Audit
The best way to prepare for an audit is to keep your records in order at all times, rather than scrambling to do so after you are selected for review. There are many different documents and files you must maintain for your drivers. These include the results of drug and alcohol testing, electronic logging device (ELD) records, annual driver reviews, and more.
Stay Compliant with HDS Safety Services
It can quickly become overwhelming to organize and maintain all the necessary documents for DOT compliance. However, proper record keeping is essential, especially if your motor carrier is selected for an audit. HDS Safety Services can help. We offer a variety of services including driver qualification file management. If you have been selected for DOT review, we also offer pre-audits to ensure you are prepared.