DOT Compliance Archives

Roadside Inspections 101

 

 

 

Roadside Inspections are the #1 component to improving your FMCSA BASIC – Safety Measurement Scores.Inspection

So many companies across the United States are feeling the aches and pains of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s A&I Online – SMS scoring of the 7 BASICs.

Have you or your company experienced this?  If a company’s SMS scores are above a threshold they are immediately placed in an intervention program by the FMCSA.  The first thing that will happen is receiving a “Warning Letter” from the FMCSA.

What do you do now?  If the company doesn’t take action to improve the BASIC score, a COSTLY DOT AUDIT will soon follow.

The key to solve this is Roadside Inspections.  But I must caution you, these roadside inspections must be good clean inspections with no violations.  Several years ago when I was a Colorado State Patrolman working an inspection station.  I was approached by an owner of a trucking company asking our team if we could inspect five of his vehicle so he could improve his CSA Scores.  I told him, “Sure bring them over.”

This owner did and unfortunately we shut all five of the trucks down because they had deficiencies listed in the CVSA Out-of-Service Criteria.  This was huge blow to this company’s SMS and nothing could be done.

Well, one thing could have been done.  The commercial vehicles he brought for inspection should have been Inspection Ready.  I didn’t want to write the guy up while he was trying to improve his SMS Vehicle Maintenance BASIC.  If he would have made sure the vehicles was properly maintenanced they would have passed and his SMS would have improved.

I hear statements like this all the time, “DOT inspectors can always find something to write up” or “It’s impossible to pass a roadside inspection.”  This is 100% False!  I have many clients who have a great maintenance programs and pass nearly all their inspections with ZERO violations.  When they do have a violation it doesn’t matter because they have so many good inspections.

Here are some key points to help you and your company pass roadside inspections:

  1. Know the Rules and Regulations
    1.  Train you Drivers and Maintenance Technicians so they know the rules.
      1. FMCSR Regulation Books – Company must own and update annually the Managem
        Drivers Edition "Pocketbook"

        Drivers Edition “Pocketbook”

        ent Edition and the Driver Edition

        1. 49 CFR 393 Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation
        2. 49 CFR 396 Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance
        3. 49 CFR Appendix G – Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards
        4. CVSA Out-of-Service Criteria
      2. Know you SMS scores and identify the trends in your company’s violation.  Train on these topics
  2. Have a written maintenance program maintain a strict discipline to stick to it!
    1. Keeping up with repairs will help keep the costs down to your fleet.
    2. Help ensure your vehicle will pass an inspection.
  3. Perform Periodic Inspections (49 CFR 396.17) every time a vehicle is in for maintenance
    1. Make sure each Maintenance Technician is properly qualified (49 CFR 396.19)
      1. If your Maintenance Technicians need training is needed contact Front Range Compliance Services and schedule a training session.
  4. Develop a Rewards Program it incentivize drivers and maintenance technicians to pass a roadside inspection in ZERO Violations.
    1. $50 Bonus for Passed Inspections for Drivers
    2. Gift Cards
    3. $250 Bonus for every 10 passed inspections for a Maintenance Technician
  5. Have a Driver – Commercial Motor Vehicle  Inspection Program beyond the daily vehicle inspection requirements
    1. Weekly or biweekly have every driver preform a full vehicle inspection to check all the parts and accessories necessary for safe operation.  Complete a written inspection report and submit it to the maintenance staff for approval.
  6. Identify 2-3 vehicles which work local and are in good order.  Take these vehicles to the inspection site every time the inspector is working in your area.
  7. Get to know the inspectors in your area.  Build a good business relationship.  Use them as a reference and get to know what their expectations are.
  8. ALWAYS be prepared.  A roadside inspection can happen at any time.  Don’t get caught in violation!
Stay off the DOT Radar

Stay off the DOT Radar

 

Have Questions or Need Assistance?

Contact Front Range Compliance Services

720.951.1184

 

 

 

 

Winning A DataQ Challenge for Roadside Inspections

As you may know the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s DataQ process can be extremely difficult.  Carriers try and try and are most often met failure.  Here are a couple tips that can help you have better success.

  1. Get Organized
    1. Gather the proper evidence to show proof the violation on a roadside inspection was incorrect
    2. Take photos immediately following the roadside inspection or accident
    3. Get written statements from the maintenance technician’s and drivers
    4. Know the precise regulation you are challenging and be prepared to provide a good written argument as to why the violation should be removed or corrected
    5. Explain the evidence you are providing
    6. Aske the roadside inspector to show you (The Driver) the violation and show the FMCSR Text
  2. Review All Roadside Inspections and Commercial Motor Vehicle Accidents throughly
  3. Only complete DataQ Challenges when Appropriate!
    1.  Challenging every violation, every time is a nuisance and will create a bad reputation in the state offices.
    2. Proper DataQ Challenges will earn you a level of respect in the state offices and you will be taken more serious.  (Yes they will remember you as you complete more challenges)
  4. When completing the narrative be professional, clear, and concise.
    1. Refrain from making negative or personal comments, this will put the state on defense and may cause a denial of the DataQ challenge.
    2. Stop the Fluff!  Stick to the points.  They don’t need to know how hard you are working to clean up your BASICs
  5. Complete the DataQ Challenge ASAP.  You may have two years to complete a challenge, but its Affecting your CSA BASIC’s today.
  6. Drivers MUST challenge their tickets.
    1. Driver’s have got to take tickets to court.  Getting violations dismissed in court is a guaranteed win in a DataQ Challenge.
    2. Driver should all have a LegalShield Basic Commercial Driver Legal Plan (CDLP)

For Assistance with DataQ’s contact Front Range Compliance Services Today

Ryan Byers

720.951.1184

ryan@frontrangecompliance.com

Be Aware of FRAUDULENT DOT Letters

Fraudulent letters sent to carriers occurs daily.

DOT Fradulant Letter

Especially to new companies applying for a USDOT Number.

For those of you who have not had the privilege of seeing this, it is another scam letter circulating to trucking companies. This one wants your financial information and like all other scams, is using an official looking letter to get it.
This scam is not original and is garden variety by Cargo Con Artist standards. It does bring up some interesting points though. In the information age, your data is an open door for thieves to steal:

  • Your Reputation
  • Your Money (or Cargo)

Obviously, we know to look out for the confidence scams that have already occurred like the group that used a fake business front and official paperwork to steal tractor trailer loads of tomatoes. This heist would have seemed silly and impossible but somewhere along the line information changed hands that helped make it happen.

My point here is that we do not know what the next big heist attempt is going to be. What I do know is that information obtained by faulty letters, talk by disgruntled employees, social media sites, news sources,  and vendors are all a potential storehouses of things that could be used to perpetuate theft.

The letter is a warning that any company information that is in the public space, is fair game. The smarter criminals will most likely use these other sources to get information about your company.

The solution:

  • Be on guard for this.
  • Make it clear what can be posted on sites and what cannot.
  • Make sure you know that everyone you are dealing with is who they say they are and that they are legitimate.
  • Research vendors and industry partners all the time.
  • Question everything.
  • Don’t take every written document presented to you on faith.
  • Check and double check references, drivers, etc.
  • Do not release any information you do not have to
  • Check with Front Range Compliance Services to verify prior to submitting any information

Put simply, make it hard to be a victim.

Front Range Compliance Services LLC

Ryan Byers – President

(720) 951-1184

ryan@frontrangecompliance.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do the DOT Roadside Enforcement Officials/Inspectors like to focus on?

As former Roadside Safety Inspectors, Compliance Investigators and National Training Center Instructors for commercial vehicle safety and compliance we have witnessed many trends among the ranks of law enforcement and roadside inspections officials while dealing with commercial vehicles. Some of these trends range from the type of vehicles inspected, focus on geographical areas, focus on violation types (Load Securement or Brake Inspections), and at times even enforcement of  incorrect violations.

Carriers operating today who are routinely stopped and inspected can relate to what I’m talking about with these trends.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard this statement “48 States, 48 different sets of rules” and its all because each state has a trend they are leaning toward.  It may be because of a miss interpretation of the rules or a states action plan that causing the officials to stop a certain type of commercial vehicle.

One thing is for curtain, some trends will never change.  Basically curtain types of carriers have a huge target on their back.  So who are these carriers?  Well it’s not company name specific but more the type of vehicles they operate.  It’s the companies that are in business for some type service but happen to use Commercial Motor Vehicles as a part of their day to day operations.  No, they are not “Truckers” or even a “Trucking Company” but they do use or rely on Commercial Motor Vehicles.blue 18 wheeler

Here is the problem that is nationwide for all small business in the United States.  They don’t think they are using a Commercial Motor Vehicle.  Here’s the reason why.  When you hear any the words…  “Commercial Vehicle”, “Commercial Motor Vehicle”, “Truck”, “Trucking Company” or “Carrier” you automatically get this vision in your head.  Yes that is correct, you see a big 18 Wheeler.

This is just what Roadside Inspectors are hoping for.  Each of them know if a small business pulls up with a small commercial motor vehicle there will be loads of violations.  We all know that DOT Inspectors like to write tickets.  But that roadside inspection report is what will damage your business.  In fact the violations on that report could lead to the small business being shut down or prohibited from transportation using a CMV.  This trend is serious and you must get you or your company Off the Radar.

So what is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

49 CFR 390.5 Commercial Motor Vehicle means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  4. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

Here are some examples of commercial motor vehicles that small businesses use in their day to day operation. These are combinations that do not require a CDL but DO require DOT Compliance.

Small Business CMVSmall 1 Ton Pickup CMV

If you drive any of these examples below then this flow chart (DOT Compliance) will tell you need full compliance.  If you want the radar off you then compliance is key.

For example on this red pick up, if the driver is using this vehicle combination for some type of business then they must be DOT Compliant. This looks like a Ford F250 pulling a small two axle trailer.  At a minimum we know the GVWR of the trailer is around 7,000 lbs.  Given the trailer weight rating we know the total Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is over 10,000 lbs making this a commercial vehicle combination.

The blue Ford 1 Ton Dually is well over 10,000 lbs GVWR and if used for a business then it meets that Commercial vehicle definition and compliance is a must.  Yes, you can use this vehicle as a personal car.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But while using it in the furtherance of your business is a different story.  Remember the rules change for vehicles being used in commerce.

 

This white 3/4 ton pulling the dump trailer is a commercial motor vehicle.  This is a very common vehicle combination on the roadways today.  Usually inspectors find a lot of vio3/4 Pick and Dump Trailer CMVlations with these.  So you can count on the roadside inspectors licking their chops and ready to inspect you every time if your truck looks like this.  The pickup has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 8,800-9,9Small CMV Combination00 lbs and the trailer will be right around 14,000 GVWR.  So this GCWR is right around 23,000 lbs.  I don’t know about you but I can spot a few violations just looking at the picture.

 

In the photo of the white Dodge and small white enclosed trailer.  This combination is going to be very close to the 10,000 lbs limit.  Looking at it I know the pickup is right about 6,600 lbs GVWR and the trailer is probably 2,500 lbs GVWR.  So in this case this may not be a Commercial Vehicle Combination.  You would want to check the VIN plates and add up the GVWR’s to be 100% sure.

 

 

Alright here is the bottom line.  If you drive one of these combinations then you and you company have a huge target on your back.BullsEye  Inspectors will pass up other vehicles just to get a shot at you.  Nothing will shut an inspector down faster that you or your drivers being prepared.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tip’s to Stay Off The DOT Radartop 10

  1. Make sure you keep your truck and equipment clean and in a professional manner.
  2. Have your Company Name and USDOT number on the left and right side of the vehicle.
  3. Keep all the vehicle/trailer lamps in good working condition.
  4. Train your drivers on the roadside inspection procedures.
  5. Train your drivers how to answer DOT related questions that may arise during a roadside inspection.
  6. Ensure your drivers are using the proper load securement methods for the type of commodity you are transporting.
  7. Use only qualified drivers that meet the full requirements of 49 CFR 391.11.
  8. Ensure your drivers are inspecting the vehicle everyday prior to starting their shift.  This included the trailer breakaway brake system.
  9. Ensure the truck and trailer both have a current periodic (annual) inspection.

And the #10 Tip to staying off the DOT Radar is – Contact The DOT Inspector LLC and have us help you become compliant so you can avoid the day to day hassle that can be caused by DOT Enforcement.

Contact us today and we’ll schedule a 2-3 hour consultation.  We are committed to you and your company’s DOT Safety Success.

Ryan Byers – Lead Consultant
Servicing the Denver Metro and North Eastern Colorado Area
Cell – (720) 951-1184
 
 
 
The DOT Inspector LLC

It is our mission to provide our clients with essential D.O.T. compliance services and training of the highest quality and unequaled value. Through dedicated and responsive service we will improve our client’s CSA safety scores and decrease the likelihood of federal or state audits and fines. We are committed to maintaining excellence, respect and integrity in all aspects of our operations. In our partnerships with the commercial vehicle owners of Colorado we will assure that their privacy is held with the highest ethical standards; all information shared being kept strictly confidential. It is our goal to provide you with the knowledge and services to keep you off the radar!

Visit us on the web @ www.TheDOTInspector.com

 

 

 

 

Many Struggle with DOT Laws

 

 

 

Many are struggling with DOT Compliance.

 

Guide to DOT Regulations

The DOT Regulation Road Map

There is one thing that is a given when it come to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  Nearly every company struggles with the DOT laws and regulations.  It’s a fact!

It could be a company that’s been around for 20 plus years or the owner operator who is just getting started.  It could even be that small landscaping business whose business is exploding but they neglect the DOT portion of the biz.  My point is, it’s not just you who may be running into problems.  It’s everyone.

When a lot of companies first discover they need to comply with DOT Laws it’s usually because they were stopped and inspected.  This is usually a pretty big wake up call for many company’s.  Because you probably had a truck/trailer and driver stuck somewhere far away and they’re telling you they were just placed out-of-service.  Are you the boss that cusses out your driver because he was given strict instructions to drive around the check points?

So what is your reaction going to be?

Are you going to be that business that says screw it I’m not going to do it!

Or are you the business that says “I need to figure this out and make  sure my business in operating in accordance with the laws and regulations.”

Both of these statements are simple to say, but the bottom line is you have a decision to make.  It takes commitment and dedication to your business if you want to be in compliance.  Right now at this point is when many learn just how complex the DOT Laws can be.  Many will decide to throw in the towel.  They don’t quit the business.  They just choose to operate illegally and eventually get shut down.

 

It doesn’t have to be as difficult as some tend to make it.

The first thing any company needs to do is look up the Federal Regulations.  Be careful buying copies of the regulations.  Owning a copy is a great thing for your business, but once that sales rep gets you on their list he’ll never stop bothering you.  They will call you every quarter and attempt to sell you a new copy.  it’s just not necessary.

Also as soon as you register for a USDOT number the sales calls are going to start coming in.  These callers are going to tell you that you are out of compliance and they are very convincing.  Some of them will try to convince you that they are the FMCSA and are auditing you.  I’ve seen these so called compliance people take a Non-CDL driver and make them start a Drug and Alcohol Program.  Come on, anyone who knows the rules especially 49 CFR Parts 40 and 382 knows this is a BIG No-No!

When seeking assistance with the DOT Laws be careful.  You can always use your state and federal office as a resource.  Heck, you could even call us and we’ll get you a safe resource in your area or we will be your safe reliable resource.  Our #1 goal is safety and compliance for our clients and the public.  So if that means giving you a little information we will..

If you are seeking assistance try to stay local.  Laws are different in every state.  I wouldn’t dare try to build a compliance package for a carrier on the east coast or Midwest states because it is just too difficult.  I know the federal regulations are the same everywhere but many local and state laws can change many things.  So staying local is important.

Also consider who your working with.  Ask to see a resume.  If they don’t have one, then they are not worth your time.  A consultant may need to represent you in court or for an audit/CSA investigation as an expert and a resume is necessary.  If all the representative can say is, “I been doing this for 30 years and I was a state trooper 40 years ago”.  Then this representative is probably not a good choice for your business.

For example, if someone asked me for a resume I would provide one.  It is so important.  We even have our resumes here on this site www.thedotinspector.com/ryans-resume. Take a look at this.  It is absolutely vital that you know our qualifications.

 

My best advise is hang in there and keep up the good fight and do what you can to comply.

If you would like to know what your standing with the DOT Laws then give us a call.  Our Compliance Assessment will allow you to see exactly what is needed to avoid future problems with the DOT Officials.

 

The DOT Inspector
Your #1 Choice for DOT Safety and Compliance

Ryan Byers – Consultant

Cell – (720) 951-1184
Email – ryan@frontrangecompliance.com
Visit us on  Facebook at www.TheDOTInspector.com/Facebook

 

New Entrant Safety Audit – The Shocking Truth

 

 

 

Is it possible to fail a Safety Audit?  YES it is and its happening everywhere.

In 2002 The New Entrant Safety Assurance Program (Safety Audits) was booming.  It became a mandatory audit that any carrier who either obtained a new USDOT Number or updated the status on an existing USDOT Number.   A safety audit was supposed to be an educational based audit designed to allowed either a state or federal official to review every company for DOT Compliance.

The audit focused on all the safety administrative procedures.  Officers would spend around four hours explaining the rules to the carrier and providing forms that could used for future compliance.

When these audits started they were simple.  Not a big deal and very rarely did anyone fail.  No, in fact the audit was geared for all carriers to pass.

Like everything with the feds the rules become harder and more difficult.  In 2010 the safety audit system changed.  They never thought it was going to be a big deal.  They were wrong.  The new system is now holding carriers responsible, which can be good and bad.  It pushes the question, You started in business when? and You are still non-compliant?  WHY?  The system fails any carrier who does know the rules.

Is this a big deal? Yes, because if your business fails a Safety Audit then you have 60 days to fix it.  If you don’t satisfy all the requirements then your company will be placed under a Federal OUT-OF-SERVICE Order.  They all your time, energy and money will be wasted.

 

FACT – Right Now Over 60% of the Carriers are Failing the New Entrant Safety Audit

Last week I was speaking with some of my contacts inside the Colorado State Patrol, MCSAP office here in Golden, Colorado.  We spoke about the safety audit program and I was given a bit of disturbing yet interesting information.

What I found out was, with today’s standard New Entrant Safety Audit, there is a greater than 60% Failure Rate for companies in start up.  This means all the companies getting started are struggling with the DOT requirements.  The government is stepping in and giving them 60 days to fix it.  Or they get shut down with a Out-of-Service Order.  This is a scary situation for your new company that you have invested in building. How much time, energy, and money do you have invested?

Currently, with the CSA Model and Safety Audit Structure companies large and small have a huge target on them.  It’s called COMPLIANCE.

 

Is there a Solution?

YES, It called you need to be PREPARED.  If you are not ready and you have not taken responsibility for ALL the DOT administrative procedures then I guarantee you’re operating in NON-Compliance and you are at risk.  If you don’t take the right steps Right Now then you could be facing a possible SHUT DOWN.  Since when is SHUT DOWN an option?

 

A simple question for you. When it’s time to do your taxes who do you hire?

An accountant right?  And Why? Because if you mess up on your taxes your business will be shut down.

 

A second simple question. When its time to become DOT Compliant who do you hire?

The DOT Inspector LLC

Yes, that’s right.  Call us to day and schedule your FREE Compliance Assessment.

 

Don’t become one of the 60%ers Call Today

 

Check out out individual resumes in the About Us tab or click here: http://thedotinspector.com/about-us/ryans-resume/

Your Next Step is to Call Us now at (720) 951-1184 and Schedule your Compliance Assessment.  We’ll show you how your company is doing when it comes to compliance.
The DOT Inspector
Your #1 Choice for DOT Safety and Compliance

 

Ryan Byers – Consultant

Cell – (720) 951-1184
Email – ryan@frontrangecompliance.com
Visit us on  Facebook at www.TheDOTInspector.com/Facebook

 

 

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