Fleet Management

Fleet Owners Guide to DOT Audits

Post Share

 What are Compliance Checks?

Commercial fleet vehicles and drivers must be in compliance with the safety regulations of the road. A Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection ensures your company’s vehicles and drivers are safe. DOT inspections have a variety of tests to make sure the driver or vehicle is not a safety hazard while on the road. They are carried out by state troopers or individuals from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Being prepared for a DOT inspection can contribute to your fleet’s uptime and reduce the probability of a major accident on the road. 

Consider this: Around 24% of vehicles and 6% of drivers were placed out of service because they received a level 1 DOT inspection. 

DOT inspections can happen at any time. Here’s what you need to know to be prepared for a DOT inspection.

The Importance of Compliance Checks

Compliance checks ensure your fleet and drivers meet safety requirements. Compliance checks are independent evaluations to make sure an organization is following policies, procedures or controls. 

Non-compliance, in addition to affecting your bottom line, can subject your company to penalties, fines or sanctions.

 DOT Audit Preparation: A Comprehensive Guide

The inspector conducts the DOT audit using a check list. Depending on the fleet and what type of cargo it carries, the DOT audit can have six levels. Being aware of each level can help you be prepared for your DOT audit. Here’s what you should know.

DOT Audit Level 1 Inspection

Level 1 is the most common and thorough inspection. It takes an hour to perform and evaluates the driver and the vehicle. Drivers need to present their commercial driver’s license, driver logs, skill evaluation certificates and any other documentation the inspector asks for. 

The inspector will evaluate the vehicle’s seat belts, windshield wipers, suspension, brakes, tires, lights, fuel system, steering wheeling, cargo securement and more.

DOT Audit Level 2 Inspection

This inspection is known as a walk around inspection because the inspector checks everything that is in the level 1 inspection with the exception of what is under the truck and trailer. 

DOT Audit Level 3 Inspection

A level 3 inspection focuses on just the driver. The inspector will look at the driver’s license, driving logs, seat belt and alcohol and drug use, skills performance evaluation certificates, record of duty status and carrier identification and status.

DOT Audit Level 4 Inspection

This is a special one-time evaluation that evaluates a specific vehicle feature. These inspections help inspectors monitor a violation over time.

DOT Audit Level 5 Inspection

A level 5 audit focuses on only the vehicle. These inspections can be performed at a variety of locations.

DOT Audit Level 6 Inspection

This inspection is for trailers that carry radioactive material. The vehicle goes through a level 1 inspection in addition to radioactive checks. 

Now that you know the different inspections, you’ll want to have documentation ready before your inspector arrives. The inspector may request your:

  • Advanced user list
  • Violations report
  • Malfunction report
  • Accident register
  • Driver’s medical certificates and more

If you have drivers with hours of service violations, the inspector will likely want to take a closer look at them.

Additionally, fleet management technology can help you prepare for a DOT audit. Fleet management technology streamlines all your documentation and makes it easily accessible.

Understanding Federal Regulations: A Necessity for Businesses

Federal regulations are designed to keep drivers and vehicles safe. Adhering to federal regulations makes it easier for your company to maximize loads, manage routes and stay profitable and competitive.

Many federal trucking regulations change over time, but there are a few in place that rarely change:

DOT registration: If your trucks are traveling on major roads or highways, they need to be registered with DOT. Your drivers need to update their registration every two years. Make sure your drivers are aware of this regulation. Failure to complete registration can lead to delays and lost revenue.

Hours of service: It will be easier to plan routes and schedule loads if you know your hours of service limits.

Driver qualifications: Most states require driver qualifications to be updated yearly.

Key Takeaways: Compliance Checks, DOT Audits, and Federal Regulations

Complying with federal safety regulations and not only keeps your drivers and others on the road safe, it can keep your company profitable and trustworthy. 

DOT audits can happen at any time. Having all your documentation easily accessible and being aware of the type of inspection, you’ll have is essential to being prepared. 

People Also Ask:

1. What is a compliance check?

A compliance check is an independent inspection. It is done to ensure companies are operating within regulations.

2. How can I prepare for a DOT audit?

You can prepare for a DOT audit by understanding the different levels of inspection and making sure your documentation is complete and easily accessible. 

3. What are the main federal regulations a business should be aware of?

Businesses should be aware of several federal regulations including: tax code, employment and labor laws, antitrust laws, advertising laws and appropriate safety regulations.