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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees regulations that apply to fleet management. All companies that engage in the transportation of goods must be DOT compliant, a process that involves knowing DOT regulations and how they apply to driver compliance and fleet compliance.
Being DOT compliant is a foundational duty for anyone who manages a fleet. Not being compliant can lead to all kinds of issues, including financial penalties, suspension of license to operate a fleet and also, in the worst cases, jail time.
Knowing DOT Compliance Regulations
The DOT provides plenty of information on its website about how to become DOT compliant and maintain that compliance. The regulations apply to almost any kind of commercial vehicle, which is required to register with the DOT and obtain a United States Department of Transportation number.
This includes companies that use vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds, transport more than eight passengers for compensation or transport hazardous materials.
In a technology age, it also involves issues such as chain of custody on documentation, which is central to compliance as well as security of a company’s supply chain.
Driver DOT Compliance
Drivers must earn a commercial license to be DOT compliant. Doing so requires getting a permit, which only allows you to practice driving on public roads if a licensed commercial driver is in the vehicle with you. Doing so requires more than just passing a knowledge test, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
FMCSA requires that in addition to passing the knowledge test, drivers must pass a background check that will go back over your driving record for 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You also need to provide proof that you are medically fit to drive.
To obtain a license, you then must pass three tests that include a Vehicle Inspection Test, the Basic Controls Test and the Road Test.
Fleet DOT Compliance
Once you are registered and licensed with the government, staying DOT compliant with your fleet revolves in large part around maintaining the proper paperwork on activities. For example, companies must prepare and file paperwork for pre-trip and post-trip inspections of vehicles. They must also maintain the latest records for vehicle maintenance and repairs.
Technology can help with many of these issues. Devices can log inspection reports, track the number of hours the driver has been on the road, and calculate the international fuel tax for trucks driving between Canada and the United States.
Companies must also have a current copy of regulations both in the office and with each driver, maintain records of accidents involving vehicles, make sure each vehicle is marked with its DOT number and maintain files for each driver that includes licenses and any road incidents.
Software also provides a chain of custody record that is important in terms of maintaining the security of company documents. These records make it easier to stay compliant with the paperwork that must be filed with the government. This is an overview of how both drivers and fleet management companies can become and remain DOT compliant. Because of the complexity of the issue, many companies will turn to professionals with expertise in DOT compliance and fleet management for the latest technology to help them become more efficient in this critical area.