How to pass a DOT safety audit?
Safety audits are one of the most important and often daunting tasks in maintaining a safe trucking company.
While they can be inconvenient and (on occasion) outright frustrating, they help encourage a safe working environment for truckers, support staff, and everyone on the road.
Whether you are a manager overseeing hundreds of vehicles or an owner-operator responsible for your deliveries, you must prepare for a DOT safety audit.
These audits must be taken seriously, as failure to do so can cause significant disruption to your shipping efforts.
What is a DOT safety audit?
A DOT safety audit done by the Department of Transportation is a check to see whether a company’s fleet is following all FMCSA requirements for safety.
A Safety Audit consists of:
- a review of a carrier’s safety data
- a review of a motor carrier document
- an interview with the motor carrier’s safety official
What does the DOT audit cover?
A DOT safety audit covers six categories to ensure that a transportation company follows all the safety protocols.
How to prepare for a DOT safety audit?
Fortunately, there are a few standard strategies for passing a DOT safety audit. And it all starts with understanding the basics of a DOT safety audit and the most common violations.
DOT Safety Audit Common Violations
Safety inspectors look at many factors, and any number of them could harm your safety score. Yet, some violations are more common than others. Addressing these potential violations won’t guarantee a passing score, but it will improve your chances of passing the DOT safety audit.
On average – five areas harm your DOT safety score…
The tires on your truck need to be filled and in good working order. Inspectors will give all tires a thorough review. Often inquire about your specific tire size. So be sure to go the extra mile in your documentation to notate and keep a record of said data.
Proper communication is essential to the trucking industry. Inspectors may want to ensure sufficient English is used in communication with your drivers. Also, make sure your drivers are familiar with their truck’s documentation.
Improper truck files
Your files must be up to date. Insurance, safety records, driver files, and truck binders must be easily accessible for audit and inspection purposes.
Placement of the ELD
There are strict regulations on how an electronic logging device, or “ELD,” should be used. One of the most common violations is simply having the ELD secured incorrectly. Take the time to train your drivers properly and ensure your fleet managers set your driver’s equipment up.
An up-to-date fire extinguisher is essential for safety. The audit will review the fire extinguisher placement in the truck and ensure it’s the correct model. Moreover, it needs to be recharged within a specific timeframe.
Placing your attention on these five aspects will create a foundation for avoiding some of the most commonly obtained violations. Thus, it will strengthen the safety protocols within your team.
Create Your Preparation Checklist for DOT Safety Audit
The DOT uses a checklist to go through your safety audit. So why not use one yourself?
Whether you are a manager or an owner-operator, having a checklist will help you stay organized and maintain a high safety standard.
What should be included? Here are a few ideas to get started:
Proof of insurance
All vehicles should have proper proof of insurance. Exactly how much insurance do you need?
It depends on your vehicles and the cargo that your equipment hauls. Coverage totals can range from $750,000 to $5 million. Regardless of the total, make sure all vehicles and your office have insurance documentation.
Drug and alcohol policy
Testing for drugs and alcohol should be documented thoroughly. Your safety auditor may request evidence of prevention programs that are currently in place at your organization. It is essential to ensure your drivers have signed off on your policies and that company representatives are implementing said practices.
Pre-employment drug testing
If you conduct pre-employment drug testing, you should provide this information to the auditor. Have this document available at all times, as well as your chain of custody letters and initial test requests in the driver’s files.
You will need up-to-date records for all drivers on your staff. These records help assess the level of experience your driver possesses.
From a single truck to a large fleet of vehicles, you should always have complete maintenance records. This should include the following:
- when the vehicle was last serviced,
- what was performed (Oil changes, tire changes, repairs, balance, etc.)
- where (at what shop),
- shop’s contact information.
Pre-trip as well as post-trip inspections must be performed accordingly with each load. These reports document any problems with the vehicle at the beginning and end of a trip. They provide helpful information on the overall safety and reliability of a vehicle. Inspection reports must be kept for up to 6 months for company records.
Keep Documents, Checklists Organized
Above all, the organization is the key. Staying organized will help you locate the right documents at a moment’s notice, helping you pass the audit as swiftly as possible. Everything should be organized and properly filed, from paper records to digital information.
Pay particular attention to expiration dates on your driver and vehicle documentation. Log all data and neatly collect all your documents. Everything should be easily accessible when an audit comes around.
Be Completely Prepared for Your Next Safety Audit
We are dedicated to helping transportation companies succeed on the road and within their everyday office operations. Through education, compliance assistance, and consultation plans – our team is here to guide your company in all aspects of safety support. We’re a nationally renowned company with resources all across the states, so contact our team today – call 331-551-8787