No one in trucking looks forward to a DOT audit. An auditor can cause a great deal of stress with the power to slap your company with costly fines. Most everyone would prefer to not have to worry about an audit. There are a few things you can do to set your mind at ease, though. Here are four things to look at specifically for your DOT audit checklist to test how ready you are for the auditor:
This might seem like a given, but you would be surprised at how often managers simply miss an error on an application here and there and it winds up costing them. Maybe a driver didn’t totally finish their employment history or residence. This could be very important, since that driver could have gone by another name a few years ago or drove recklessly in a different state, and you would never know. Also, be sure to track drivers who change their name due to marriage, divorce, etc. This can cause a great deal of confusion during an audit and may get you in trouble needlessly.
The standard rule is less than 30 days before date of hire and most of the time this isn’t an issue. However, weird things happen in the real world. Maybe a driver had his or her CDL expire right before you hired them and they have to get it renewed. Or they failed a road test and need to take it over. Be sure your managers run another MVR if a process like this extends past 30 days. If they lived in another state, make sure you run an MVR for that state as well. When in doubt, always run another one. You won’t get in trouble for running too many MVRs, and it’s always cheaper than a DOT fine.
The problem is almost always the same no matter the size of your company. A manager calls a previous employer to try and get safety sensitive information. That company doesn’t call back or provide the answers you want. Maybe the manager’s contact info was wrong or they don’t work for that company anymore. This happens all the time.
SAVE EVERYTHING. The DOT wants hard proof of your three attempts to contact each previous employer. So save or print out everything. Save copies of emails to a digital DQ file. Scan in or save paper copies of faxes or snail mail if you tried these ways to contact employers. Smartphones can screenshot a call log you can instantly document for the DQ file. You need to have all of this in case your messy file is the one the auditor pulls.
This is another area where many mistakes happen. Most drivers simply need a med card and an updated MVR with matching medical information, but again, life happens. A driver goes on medical leave for a little while and comes back with a valid MVR or med card. Be sure your managers are paying attention to details like these. Run an MVR anytime medical information or status changes for a driver, and make sure any waivers or exemptions for your drivers are verified up front. Make a separate list for these waivers and exemptions if you need to.
These are just a few tips to help you ready your company for a DOT audit. If you would like a system that creates a full DOT audit checklist, digitally stores the documents, and automatically sets reminders, you may want to check out ComplianceCare to help you organize your files digitally. Or, if you’re agonizing on a daily basis over the looming threat of an auditor coming to attack your bank account, you may be interested in more hands-on auditing services.
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