The growing shortage of commercial drivers and carriers was already a reality facing companies long before the industry had ever heard of COVID-19. But with the global pandemic causing wide-reaching impacts for the auto industry and many others during this time, the lack of available drivers continues to loom large over companies that utilize their services. Due to health concerns, as well as regulations or restrictions in certain localities, many drivers and carriers are retiring early or refraining from taking any new jobs at this time.
Because of this, companies with fleets – who need readily available drivers to complete vehicle transports as orders come in – are now turning to carrier and driver networks for transportation services. However, when fleet companies select a transport provider, they must ensure that the provider follows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) guidelines and meet the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance requirements. Without such compliance to federal regulations, companies can eventually see additional costs or penalties, delays that hurt their speed to market or overall productivity, and even potential security or operating issues for their fleets.
Now more than ever, companies with fleets need to ensure their drivers are fully DOT compliant and ready to hit the road.
What is DOT Compliance?
For instance, commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers must meet a number of conditions related to training and driver qualification files (DQ). Certainly, any drivers hoping to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) would need to complete such training and become fully qualified through instruction, practice, and certified physical exam. Requirements also state that companies should follow DOT drug testing and alcohol testing standards, advising them to conduct random tests on drivers to ensure compliance.
Additionally, DOT compliance standards cover other entities like the type or size of a transport truck, commercial vehicle, or inventory vehicle being transported. In fact, DOT has established rules that state how vehicles should be arranged safely for a transport, as well as proper methods for securing the vehicles. All CMVs must receive regular vehicle inspections both by their own drivers and outside authorities, with forms submitted whenever an equipment or safety issue arises. All repairs must be identified and addressed swiftly and correctly, according to DOT’s guidelines.
Beyond these DOT regulations, there’s also a mandate for thorough and accurate record keeping. These records must encompass all DQ files, driver hours of service, bills of lading and manifests, dispatch and trip records, expense receipts and toll charges, fleet management communications, payroll records, and settlement sheets.
Why Does It Matter?
There are often serious consequences for companies thatwho violate DOT’s standards. Unfortunately, far too often, companies with fleets learn this the hard way after hiring non-compliant drivers or partnering with driver-and-carrier providers who pay no heed to DOT compliance rules.
Most frequently, penalties for non-compliance – especially for first-time offenders – materialize as severe fines. This can result in many additional costs for the fleet company in question, affecting the overall value of their transports and, ultimately, hurting their bottom line. These disruptions also cause speed and productivity delays, as the companies work to sort out the compliance issues or find new carriers or drivers to move their assets.
However, DOT-violation penalties can also extend far beyond financial repercussions. Depending on the nature or number of compliance violations, DOT has been known to suspend companies from being able to operate at all. There have even been a fair number of jail sentences involved with particularly severe cases, usually where endangerment or harm to other drivers on the road are involved.
To put it briefly, companies don’t want to worry about the many potential consequences they could face from DOT non-compliance. Fortunately, that’s exactly where an expert third-party compliance provider like ACERTUS can step in and help.
How can ACERTUS help?
The experienced and dedicated compliance team at ACERTUS believes in serving as the “Fleet Safety Manager” for companies that require its services. Safety precautions and DOT compliance can be handled from a consultative or contractual basis, as ACERTUS works on behalf of the company to ensure compliance on all fronts.
Fleet companies can utilize ACERTUS’ DOT compliance program for everything from safety meetings, the design or implementation of driver training programs, and the implementation of an audit or best-practice programs to the customer-focused fleet compliance solutions and the ongoing maintenance of all pertinent records, including DQ files.
Additionally, ACERTUS ensures that all the drivers and carriers in its own network are carefully vetted and DOT-compliant, so companies that utilize any of ACERTUS’ vehicle transport services can rest assured they’ll be covered at all times. It’s Safer Ship Technology integrates well with the DOT’s own system, which means the companies that partner with ACERTUS have direct access to nightly updates on their vehicles. Additionally, the ACERTUS compliance team can also extend services to cover permitting, IFTA fuel tax reporting, title and registration, toll-and-transponder management system services and much more.
Through hard working and committed teams, working partnerships with outside entities, strong infrastructure, technology-enabled solutions, and depth of compliance-related knowledge, ACERTUS is well-positioned within the industry to serve as the go-to compliance partner. Fleet companies can rest assured that compliance work will be done accurately, efficiently, and cost-effectively for every service, every time.
Learn more about ACERTUS’ compliance services, including IRP and IFTA compliance, base plating, permitting, and more. ACERTUS also has a full range of vehicle maintenance, transport and logistics solutions, at https://www.acertusdelivers.com. To connect with one of our team members or receive a free quote, contact us here or call us at this phone number: 855-ACERTUS (855-223-7887).