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Compliance Is Not Safety: Learn the Difference


You can’t run your business in trucking if you aren’t in compliance with federal regulations. This fact can often cost your company a bunch of time and money as you try to stay clear of violations. But a major problem during this process continues to be that many bosses still don’t know that compliance and safety are not the same things.

The Legal Beagle mentions this little blurb on DOT compliance in their article. It talks about how important drug and alcohol testing is in the process of keeping the public safe from irresponsible drivers of all vehicles. They’re definitely right that it is. But that’s only part of the story. Safety is not just drug testing and compliance isn’t just running MVRs once a year. And more importantly, safety and compliance are not the same things, regardless of what the government would have you believe.

Even if you are up to date with your records, that doesn’t mean your drivers are safe. We’ve discussed before that human beings live their lives and make decisions based on risks vs. payoffs. If the rewards appear worth the risks, and the person can get away with a risky choice, that person will continue to take the risk and develop bad habits. No amount of medical testing or MVRs catches this type of behavior. You are compliant if you have all those records up to date, which is great news. But that doesn’t control driver safety. 

The promotion of safer driving is a tougher business. Habits are hard to break and it will take time and practice to do that. If you use a professional driving course like The A-Fleet as part of your driver orientation, that helps a great deal. Courses like this teach defensive driving and what unsafe practices drivers need to be aware of when they drive, none of which they ever learn while getting a CDL. The introduction of safer practices is an important step for newer drivers especially.

Some companies have also gone the route of random driver evaluations. They have gone about this in a way similar to random drug testing in that they just pull names from a pool once a year. You might have some hesitation in doing this because it might cost money and irritate the drivers. But it’s a good way to assess driver safety up close and keep your drivers from sinking into bad habits, in case they are going to be tested soon. Incorporated with other methods, like a team safety competition where the safest drivers get prizes or monthly seminars on safe driving, this kind of idea can go a long way towards keeping your drivers as safe as possible.

Your safety team can try out any of these ideas, but they do take time and effort. Unfortunately, so does maintaining driver compliance. Many times these jobs are all handled by one or two people at a location or company. Instead of going through the unwanted process of hiring more people to incorporate more ideas, you can get compliance software, like A-Suite Comply. 

For less money and the time it would take to find and train new people, you can streamline the compliance process to save your safety team time and effort, freeing them up to focus on safety itself. That is, after all, their real prerogative.

Too many people in trucking confuse safety and compliance. They are both necessary, but they are hardly the same thing. Rules don’t make drivers safer. Your efforts to teach and promote safer driving practices make the difference. It will take time and effort, and we at AvatarFleet will help you. Ask us what you can do today to make your drivers safer. Safe drivers mean fewer accidents and that’s what we’re all about.

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