How Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators Can Be DOT Compliant
Being DOT compliant means meeting all of the established standards across the various oversight areas of DOT. If a commercial motor vehicle operator were to violate any of these, then they would face very serious consequences, which is why they are monitored regularly in order to make sure that they remain compliant at all times.
By being DOT compliant, a commercial motor vehicle operator is meeting all of the numerous requirements that have been set out by the United States Department of Transport. This is the federal agency that is responsible for enforcing the DOT regulations that surround commercial motor vehicles. If an operator falls out of compliance, this results in a violation being incurred.
Any operators that are found to be violating the regulations are subjected to serious sanctions, which include things like jail time, the suspension of commercial motor vehicle operations, and penalty fines.
What does being DOT compliant mean?
This refers directly to be on the right side of the standards that have been established in each of the several oversight areas of DOT. Violating any of these results in major consequences, which is exactly why commercial motor vehicle operators are monitored regularly, ensuring they are compliant at all times.
Trucker drivers are well aware that the United States Department of Transport gives out DOT numbers and these are put on things like paperwork and equipment in order to indicate that they are associated with a particular operator. It is true that the DOT regulations govern all aspects of the commercial motor vehicle industry.
Who must be DOT compliant?
The DOT regulations apply to all of those vehicles that need to register with DOT and that receive a DOT number. These are typically described as being commercial motor vehicles of any sort, but more specifically relate to those ones that meet any or all of the following criteria:
- Can carry fifteen or more passengers (including the driver)
- Can carry eight or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Weighs 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or more
- Transports hazardous materials (as specified by DOT)
The above qualifications relate to those motor vehicles that are used for the purpose of commerce across state lines. There are some states in America that make it a requirement for commercial motor vehicles that travel between states to have a DOT number.
Knowing the DOT regulations
In order to ensure that truck drivers remain compliant with all of the DOT regulations, many operators make it a requirement for them to partake in mandatory DOT compliance training. By learning the ins and the outs of the rules, commercial motor vehicle operators can ensure that they remain on the right side of the law. Some of the extra things that they can do to ensure that truck drivers remain compliant include the following things:
- Giving supervisors the proper drug and alcohol training
- Performing regular randomized drug and alcohol tests on truck drivers
- Keeping personalized records of all drug and alcohol tests performed
- Providing truck drivers with a copy of the DOT regulations
- Keeping personalized records of the number of house of service (HOS) for truck drivers
Whilst the above list covers all of the main parts of the DOT regulations to stay compliant, employing supervisors and managers that know the rules inside and out is the most effective way of ensuring that commercial motor vehicle operators stay on the right side of the law. Additionally, performing frequent reviews is a highly effective way of reducing the chances of not being compliant.
Vehicles that need to be DOT compliant
A commercial motor vehicle needs to be compliant with DOT regulations if it is being used for commerce across states and meets any or all of the conditions already discussed (carrying hazardous materials, carrying passengers, being of a certain weight). There are no exemptions to these rules.
In addition, it is required by certain states in America that commercial motor vehicles obtain a DOT number. This number acts as a personalized identifier for the purpose of monitoring and collecting an operator’s information that is acquired when performing inspections, compliance reviews, audits, crash investigations, etc.
The rules that have been put in place by the United States Department of Transport encompass a wide range of activities. For instance, they range from truck driver behavior and certification to motor vehicle maintenance and operation.
Some of the most common DOT violations that commercial motor vehicle operators find themselves guilty of doing include the following:
- Not having the right documentation
- Truck drivers not taking a break after driving the maximum number of hours
- Unsafely transporting hazardous materials
- Not having the correct licensing or qualifications
- Not inspecting motor vehicles as required
- Not maintaining motor vehicles as required
- Failing to test truck drivers for drugs or alcohol whilst they are on duty
DOT penalties and fines
It is the United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that puts into place the fine schedule for violating DOT regulations. The fines vary in their size and can escalate rather rapidly. Examples of the cost of DOT violation fines include the following:
- Purposely falsifying records comes with a fine of $12,135
- Failing to stop operations after receiving an out-of-service order costs $26,126
- Violating regulations regarding safety permitting or hazardous materials comes with a fine of $78,376
- Violating regulations regarding safety permitting or hazardous materials and this leads to the destruction of property, serious injury, or death, this costs $182,877.
This is just a small example from what is a long list of DOT violations and is a clear indication that the consequences of not being compliant have the potential of being extremely financially severe.
In order to avoid being subject to any of these penalties or even having a license suspended/revoked, it is important that commercial motor vehicle operators are fully aware of what the DOT regulations are and that they are followed to the letter.