Safety Audit 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






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


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:

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
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