What is DOT Compliance? Rules and Regulations You Need to Know
If you’re opening a trucking company, you know that there are many rules and regulations that you must follow. The Department of Transportation oversees regulations and safety for the United States highway system and all modes of transportation on those roads.
The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration is the agency within the DOT that regulates the trucking industry. According to Simplex Group – Dot Safety Compliance is essential to the successful operation of any trucking company.
The FMCSA has certain rules for trucking companies that take interstate hauls. If you know what they’re and comply with them, you will be taking a major step toward operating a successful trucking company.
Which Trucking Companies Must Comply with DOT Rules?
If you operate trucks that are over 10,000 pounds and you cross state lines, you must obtain a USDOT number and comply with DOT rules. You will also be subject to their rules if you haul hazardous materials that require placarding. Companies that transport 8 or more passengers are also subject to FMCSA Rules.
Obtaining a DOT Number
There are a few steps you must take to obtain a DOT number.
- Register your company as a business entity with the state. You can register your company as a limited liability company, a corporation, or a partnership. When you do this, you will be issued an Employer Identification Number.
- You will need your EIN and Social Security Number to apply for a DOT number. You will also need the names of all of your officers and the name of an agent for service who can accept legal paperwork for you.
- Go to the FMCSAs website and follow the links to the Unified Registration System. You will find a DOT application there. You will be asked basic questions about your business. You will also disclose the type of cargo that you will carry. Once you fill out the form, you will receive an applicant ID.
It will take 4 to 6 weeks to receive your DOT number. Be sure to hang on to your applicant ID to track its process.
Hire a Compliance Company
Trucking compliance is very detailed. In a nutshell, it involves obtaining plenty of insurance, making sure you are taking responsibility for your drivers and vehicles, and documenting every single thing you do.
There are so many areas of compliance that a small trucking company would never be able to stay compliant and manage its business alone. A trucking company owner must focus on running their company. Fortunately, there are compliance companies that can handle everything for you.
You should find a compliance company with many years of experience in the business. It’s best to look for a business that focuses on small start-up trucking companies.
If you find a compliance company that handles more than just basic compliance. There are all-inclusive companies that will handle insurance, taxes, and trip planning as well.
Basic Areas of Compliance
There are several different areas of trucking compliance of which you should be aware.
The Hiring Process
The government oversees everything involved in the trucking industry, including the hiring of drivers. In most companies, you certainly want to check out an applicant’s resume. However, in the trucking industry, it’s mandatory.
You must run the driving records of every trucker who applies to your company In every state they have lived in for the last 10 years. A driver must not have more than one license issued to them and must not have had any suspensions.
You must also verify employment on any other driving jobs listed on the resume. You must make an electronic record of any information that you find. You must keep these records for the duration of your driver’s employment and 3 years after that.
You must keep a record of any drug tests your drivers have taken. If a driver has been put on corrective action by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, you must keep a record of that as well.
Hours of Service
Hours of Service are very strictly regulated by the FMCSA. A driver must never operate a vehicle for more than 11 consecutive hours. A driver must be off for at least 10 hours a day. They can only drive 60 hours in a 7-day period and 70 hours in an 8-day period.
If a driver goes over hours or lies about their hours, your company could be in serious trouble with the FMCSA. You may be fined, You may fail an audit, or you may be shut down altogether.
You must record your hours with an Electronic Logging Device. Your compliance company should be able to recommend one to you. You must keep an electronic record of your driver’s HOS. Furthermore, drivers must keep their previous week’s logs with them for 7 days.
The driver must inspect their trucks every day before they leave on their trip. They must also inspect their trucks when they stop driving for the day. They should record the results of the inspection on their ELD. If a truck fails any portion of an inspection, it must be repaired before it goes back on the road. You must also electronically record any repairs a mechanic made to the vehicle.
Trucking companies need a copious amount of insurance to operate safely. The FMCSA requires all truckers who operate vehicles of over 10,000 pounds to obtain liability insurance of anywhere between $750,000 and $5,000,000 for vehicles carrying freight. If you’re transporting materials That are not hazardous, and your vehicle weighs less than 10,000 pounds, you will need $300,000 of insurance.
The FMCSA requires moving companies to have cargo insurance of between $5,000 for each vehicle and $10,000 for each occurrence.
Compliance is one of the most critical components of running a trucking business. If you hire the right compliance company and you keep good records, your trucking business will be well on the road to success.