Every year numerous companies pay thousands of dollars in fines for not being in compliance with federal and state DOT regulations. Unfortunately, as a driver or company, you are not aware of some regulations until it is too late. Does your company have the resources for a full-time compliance department to keep up with any and all changes that will affect your business?
If you use a truck in your business you are subject to the Motor Carrier Safety Act and must be in compliance with these regulations. A “carrier” is any business operating a commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds GVWR or GCWR in commerce. Full in-house compliance audits and ratings of safety programs are issued by state (Public Utilities Commission) and Federal DOT agencies (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).
Regulations in review
An investigator from either office makes an appointment for a review, and will want to meet with the person in management who is responsible for the carrier’s safety activities. Your company should assign a manager and require that person to be familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
The review is a monitoring and rating instrument designed to pinpoint shortcomings and provide a broad overview of the carrier’s safety operations. This could take as little as four or five hours or a full day or longer. The investigator will review and verify driver qualification files, records of duty status (logs), time cards, daily vehicle inspection reports, vehicle maintenance records, accident records, and perform alcohol and drug testing.
At the end of the investigation, the person responsible for your company’s safety activities is given a copy of the completed MCS-151 compliance review form. The safety coordinator must sign off as having received the form. The MCS-151 is sent to the Office of Motor Carriers in Washington for a safety rating assessment. Civil penalties are evaluated by the DOT’s regional office.
Possible ratings include satisfactory, unsatisfactory and conditional. Safety ratings are public information and are available to insurance companies or other interested parties. A conditional or unsatisfactory rating requires the carrier to take steps to bring its operation into compliance and may be scheduled for another review.
Setting up and maintaining compliance is not a part-time job for any carrier. Ensuring your company complies with current regulations takes a concerted effort and devoted amount of time. Carriers need to have compliance needs monitored for requalifications/renewals, log auditing, driver vehicle inspection reports, maintenance records, drug and alcohol testing, and more. The expiration of any qualifying documents means an unqualified driver is operating a commercial vehicle, which subjects the company to violations and possible civil/criminal costs. Should hazardous materials be involved the results are often devastating.
Motor Carrier Compliance & Safety Company (MCCS) and its personnel can correct any deficiencies by acting as an “in-house safety director” to monitor and update all regulatory requirements, including policy writing where required. This will avoid the expense of seminars and lost time on the job. The program includes all, but is not limited to the following:
1. Qualification of drivers and safety performance review with maintenance follow-up.
2. Certificate of violations/annual review of driving records.
3. Hazardous materials mandatory requirements. (Security plans, driver awareness training [HM-126, HM-232 & HM 225 training], and office hazmat training.)
4. Drug and alcohol testing documentation and recordkeeping.
5. Driver and company policy procedures in accordance to regulations. (Drug and alcohol policy.)
6. Inspection, repair and maintenance records assistance.
7. Log auditing if required.
8. Driver vehicle inspection reports assistance.
9. Safety meetings with drivers and supervisors upon request.
10. Audit assistance or on-site assistance when investigated.
11. Industrial forklift certification.
MCCS has the complete program designed to handle all areas or problems affecting uninterrupted operation of a business. All of the services are handled personally and confidentially.
The question is…when will you be audited? If you’ve never been audited or investigated, you have been very fortunate!
For more information or verification, visit www.motorcarrieronline.com.
About the Author
Bob Kolvey is safety director for Motor Carrier Compliance & Safety Company. He has over 25 years in the trucking industry and has held positions including driving, dispatching, warehousing and trailer maintenance.