What Is DOT Compliance and Why Is It so Important?
DOT compliance is essential to fostering the safe transport of cars, shipping containers, concrete piping, and other heavy cargo. A compliance inspection can occur at any time, highlighting the importance of bolstering compliance among drivers and other employees. Below is a look at DOT compliance and the increasingly critical role it plays for businesses in the transportation and construction industries.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for protecting the public by maintaining the safety and security of our country’s transportation system. DOT compliance is achieved when a company meets or exceeds the standards established by the DOT. These standards related to safety-sensitive issues including the following:
Refraining from using drugs and alcohol
Adhering to inspection and maintenance requirements
Meeting driver qualifications
Adhering to hazardous material carriage regulations
Meeting general safety requirements
Failure to take DOT compliance seriously can result in a host of unpleasant consequences ranging from a damaged company reputation to injury or death to employees and other civilians. Here is a look at four of the most devastating consequences for failing to comply with DOT standards.
Companies that fail to demonstrate DOT compliance may be subject to fines and other financial penalties. The amount of these fines can range from several hundred dollars for minor violations to over $175,000 for severe violations of hazardous materials regulations. Mike England with DOT Compliance Help highlights some of the more common financial penalties for failing to comply with DOT standards:
Non-recordkeeping violations: $14,502
Non-recordkeeping violations by driver: $3,626
Alcohol prohibition violations (first offense): $2,985
Alcohol prohibition violations (second offense): $5,970
Out-of-service order violation: $22,587
While injuries or death rarely result from DOT non-compliance, they are the most severe consequences that can result from failure to adhere to DOT standards. The FMCSA describes a serious instance of non-compliance as “an imminent hazard” that is the result of a motor carrier’s disregard for safety regulations that “will likely result in serious injury or death” if not discontinued immediately.
Once granted, FMCSA exercises its authority to revoke, amend or suspend operating authority registration in cases where a motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder engaged in conduct demonstrating wilful disregard for applicable requirements. Inadvertent, isolated, or sporadic violations of applicable requirements generally will not result in revocation, suspension or amendment.
“Serious instances of non-compliance” may result in an immediate suspension or revocation of a carrier’s ability to operate as a business. While not commonplace, revocation of a carrier’s license to operate can have immediate and long-term financial consequences for a business. When suspension or revocation is proposed, the carrier often first has an opportunity to respond with a corrective action plan (CAP).
While a single minor instance of DOT non-compliance is unlikely to lead to long-term damage to your reputation, repeated DOT violations can tarnish an otherwise outstanding industry reputation. In particular, a history of non-compliance can cause clients to become concerned about your business practices and safety of their cargo. Additionally, job candidates seeking a position in the transportation industry may bypass opportunities with your company in favor of a company with an unblemished DOT compliance record.
With the penalties for violations increasing in severity, you can hardly afford not to take measures to bolster DOT compliance. Fortunately, many of these measures are cost-effective and require little in the way of time or resources. Here are a few measures fleet managers can take to help bolster DOT compliance:
The first and most important step on the journey to DOT compliance is to establish a culture of safety and compliance at your workplace. This is achieved by building compliance awareness within all departments and among employees at all company levels. By emphasizing DOT compliance among drivers as well as managers and executives, the path to compliance will be smoother.
Switching to a paperless or digital DVIR offers a host of benefits, including improved efficiency and enhanced DOT compliance. Unlike paper reporting, digital DVIR can be completed quickly and accurately from a driver’s mobile device. By expediting the reporting process and delivering greater accuracy, drivers will be more likely to comply with reporting procedures.
A comprehensive driver training program is the cornerstone of compliance for transportation providers. Compliance training should not occur in a vacuum. It should be emphasized during the employee onboarding process, incorporated into every phase of the training process, and reiterated on a recurring basis throughout the driver’s tenure. Particular attention should be given to standards that have changed.
Incentivizing drivers to adhere to safety and DOT regulations is an effective way to bolster compliance and generate enthusiasm about adherence to regulations. Incentives can take many forms, including gift cards, paid time off, cash bonuses, and expense-paid trips. Incentives are most effective when coupled with verbal recognition by company leaders.
DOT compliance is vital to the success and industry reputation of companies in the transportation and heavy vehicle industries. Establishing a culture of compliance within your organization begins with accurate record keeping. Whip Around can help you achieve this important goal by providing you with a convenient web-based inspection platform to help drivers report their inspections quickly and accurately using their favourite mobile device. We invite you to contact us to learn how we can help you transition from cumbersome paper reporting to convenient digital inspection reporting. Whether you are the owner of a small construction company in New Zealand or the CEO of a large transportation company in the United States, Whip Around can help you achieve DOT compliance. We look forward to working with you!