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


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







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 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 @








Here’s five of the 15 violations that are AUTO FAILURE.  Knowing them all will Help Keep you OFF THE RADAR.

Today carriers throughout Colorado and the United States are experiencing a huge problem.  Passing a New Entrant Safety Audit and getting shut down with a Federal Out-of-Service Order from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

What does this mean?  Well, new companies that are in start-up or older companies that just just got a USDOT number are required to go through a DOT Audit as part of the New Entrant Program.  This program was started with great intentions.  But like anything with the government things don’t always work out the way they were planned.

In 2010 the Feds made some changes to the New Entrant Program.  The plan was to make new companies be held responsible for there activities during start up.  Basically this new plan states, “You better do it right or else.”  The “Or Else” part should scare the heck out of you.  Because companies are getting shut down left and right for not complying with DOT Regulation.

In fact so many companies in Colorado are getting shut down that the Colorado State Patrol is contacting carriers in advance and warning them to get their Safety Management Systems up and running prior to the audit.  This is a desperate attempt to stop carriers from failing and then getting shut down.

How many carriers are failing?

When the changes started to the New Entrant Program back in 2010 it was estimated that 10%-15% would fail.  This estimate was not even close to reality.  Today, the State of Colorado is seeing a 68% Failure Rate.  I cannot quote what the numbers are for the other states.  But I do know they are seeing some similar results.

This is a Huge Problem!

Mal and I saw the writing on the wall and decided to leave the Colorado State Patrol and start a service in the Commercial Vehicle Industry.   Both Mal and I know exactly what it takes to stay off the DOT Radar.  I don’t mean sneak around the DOT Checkpoints or bend the rules to fit your needs.  No, you need to comply.  At least comply with the minimum standards.  Most carriers don’t even realize that there is a minimum standard.  Imagine having two DOT Subject Matter Experts that not only advise you but they completely manage your essential safety management systems. Talk about giving you an “Easy Button”.  Yes we do it all for you.  At last you don’t need to worry because we’ll take care of you that is of course if you retain our services.

Five of the Fifteen AUTO Failures for a New Entrant Safety Audit.

  1. Failing to implement an alcohol and controlled substances testing program (Applies to CDL Drivers)
  2. Failing to ensure your drivers have a valid drivers license or commercial drivers license with the proper class and endorsements.  (You must pull MVR’s)
  3. Failing keep Records of Duty Status or Time Cards.  (All drivers even local drivers need a form of hours of service.  These range from Log Book to Time Cards.  Tip – time cards must meet a specific requirement of they wont be accepted and then you’ll fail)
  4. Failing to fix vehicle’s or equipment with severe defects that are noted on driver vehicle inspection reports or other inspection reports. (These specific violations are listed in the Out-of-Service Criteria)
  5. Failing to Periodically Inspect your Commercial Vehicle Power Units and Trailers.  (Periodic Inspections must be conducted annually by a Qualified Inspector.  Not all mechanics are qualified.  There must be knowledge of the specific regulations)

There are 10 more things that can cause your company to AUTO-FAIL a New Entrant Safety Audit.  These would all fall within the Safety Management Systems (Administrative Procedures).  So if you have not built all the necessary files and systems I can pretty much guarantee you will fail the audit.

You Have Three Options:

Think of that old clock that’s ticking and wired to a huge stack of dynamite.  Is that your company with all the dynamite it stacked and the clock is ticking.  TIC TOC TIC TOC

Even if you have been through the Safety Audit you still need to be concerned about CSA Investigations.  Sometimes carrier’s have passed a New Entrant Safety Audit and they didn’t have anything.  They just lied to the auditor and he/she did not ask to see any of the records.  Well, you got lucky and it does happens.  Unfortunately, the clock is still ticking.  That auditor did you a severe injustice.  Why?  Because a CSA investigation is unforgiving.

So you really have only three options:

Option 1: Do Nothing – Carry on business as usual and open yourself to massive liability and federal enforcement.  (FYI Insurance carriers will not stand behind a client who is out of DOT compliance)

Option 2: Do it yourself.  If you know what must happen and what safety management systems you must build then build them.  Don’t wait and don’t procrastinate.

Option 3: Let us at The DOT Inspector LLC help you.  Our “Easy Button” is truly easy.  We will stop that ticking time bomb instantly.  No guessing what wire to cut, Blue or Red.  Because we know exactly what it takes to Keep you OFF THE RADAR.

The mission of The DOT Inspector is to provide essential DOT compliance services and training for any carrier through dedicated and responsive service that will improve your CSA Safety Scores and decrease the likelihood of federal or state audits and fines.

Ryan Byers – Lead Consultant
Servicing the Denver Metro and North Eastern Colorado Area
Cell – (720) 951-1184
Visit us on Facebook @



Free DOT Compliance Training Event




Join us for lunch and training on November 15, 2012

We’ll be discussing compliance issues that carriers continually struggle with.  Additionally there with be a vehicle inspection set up where we will wall you through a DOT inspection and focus on load securement.

All companies who attend will receive a Free 2 hour DOT Compliance Consult provided by The DOT Inspector LLC


We look forward to seeing you there!



The DOT Inspector LLC
The mission of The DOT Inspector is to provide essential DOT compliance services and training for any carrier through dedicated and responsive service that will improve your CSA Safety Scores and decrease the likelihood of federal or state audits and fines.
Ryan Byers – Lead Consultant
Servicing the Denver Metro and North Eastern Colorado Area
Cell – (720) 951-1184
Visit us on Facebook @
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