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April 21, 2016

DOT Compliance Checklist [Updated for 2021]

Trucks parked in a lot.

Part of running a trucking company is making sure that you have covered all the points in the DOT compliance checklist. We can’t tell you how many times we have seen companies that turn a blind eye to the regulations and then it bites them in the butt and they get shut down. Don’t be that company.

We’ve got a free sheet you can download of things you need in your truck, things you should have on the side of the truck, and the safety and emergency equipment you need to have on hand.

But that’s not everything you have to keep in mind when being compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If your business conducts state-to-state commerce, then it’s important to remember that the government requires you to comply with both your driver’s qualifications and drug and alcohol checklists.

Here’s a look at the major portions of each. Keep in mind, you may or may not need to cover everything listed here, depending on:

  • What you’re planning on hauling
  • Where you want to haul
  • Your equipment

If you have any questions about what your trucking company does or doesn’t need, get in touch with our coaches to get a custom game plan for your business.

What Does the FMCSA Require?

Not only do you have to have certain things in your truck, you have to fill out the appropriate paperwork to make sure your company is allowed to operate. Some things to consider:

Not only that, but you are also required to have certain policies in place to keep your drivers safe on the road. These include drug and alcohol policies, like registering your drivers to be part of a random drug testing pool or regularly checking your equipment.

Someone looking at trucks.

Drug and Alcohol Compliance Checklist

It’s important to make sure you’re following the FMCSA’s requirements for drug and alcohol policies. Serious civil and criminal penalties may be applied to you or to any of your drivers who violate these rules and could put your company out of business. Here are just some of the things you have to do:

  • Ensure your drivers receive copies of your company’s drug and alcohol policies
  • Keep the results of pre-employment drug tests for all your drivers on file.
  • Check with your driver’s former employers when possible or submit a query to FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for any previous records of a driver’s drug or alcohol problems while employed.
  • Keep records of the findings on file in your office.
  • Make sure that drivers aren’t allowed to perform safety-sensitive tasks when they aren’t qualified to do so.
  • Put all your drivers in a random drug/alcohol testing pool.
  • Conduct random drug testing of half your drivers each year.
  • Randomly check at least 10% of your drivers for alcohol abuse each year.
  • Have all supervisors complete the training program required by the DOT.
  • Remove any driver in violation of DOT regulations from safety-sensitive duties.
  • Ensure that all required records relating to drug and alcohol regulations are on file and can be retrieved at any time.

CDL and Driver Checklist

Your drivers have to be qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle, too. Some of the paperwork you have to have on hand and take care of when running your own trucking company are:

  • Have a copy of the current FMCSA rules in your office. Also, make sure each of your drivers receive a copy of the rules, and sign both a receipt and agreement to comply with the regulations.
  • Complete both pre- and post-trip inspections of all your vehicles and document that you have done so in writing.
  • Keep up-to-date qualification records and safety performance histories for each of your drivers.
  • Do you and your drivers understand how to follow the hours-of-service regulations?
  • Document each driver’s hours of service. CDL drivers may not need to complete a log if they never drive further than 150 miles (this rule has recently changed from 100 to 150) from the terminal, but the company must keep records of their hours.
  • Regularly monitor/audit your driver’s hours-of-service compliance.
  • Do you have an ELD (Electronic Logging Device), if required?
  • Create a regular vehicle maintenance program and make sure that it’s followed for both your trucks and trailers.
  • Keep thorough records of incidents in a register.
  • Ensure that all of your vehicles are marked with their DOT numbers.
  • Comply with commercial motor vehicle entry-level driver training requirements.

Truck driver near his truck

Preparing for a DOT Audit

As part of a DOT New Entrant Safety Audit, you’re expected to have much of what’s listed above. By keeping accurate records, it’s possible to pass a new entrant safety audit in no time!

But, if you want to make all the paperwork easy, we’ve got templates and resources you can use as part of our DIY DOT Audit Assistance package! Getting it now can make sure you have everything you need, as our folders include templates to have on hand:

  • List of drivers and their applications
  • List of your trucks, trailers, and relevant information
  • Verify you have active insurance
  • Documentation of previous accidents
  • The medical records of all your drivers
  • Annual review of a driver’s list of violations
  • Driver’s statement of on-duty hours
  • Equipment maintenance tracking for your truck and trailer

Plus, as part of our package, it comes with a guide on how to fill everything out.

Download Our Compliance Checklist

This sounds like a lot to remember, mostly because it is. These regulations are only a small part of what you must stay on top of when you run a trucking company. What we haven’t covered here is having certain things in your truck and on your truck, which you can download for free on our website.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the coaches at Motor Carrier HQ. We’ll do whatever we can to set your trucking company up for success!

You can also listen to our podcast Haulin Assets, where we walk through the process of starting a trucking company from start to finish. Of course, you don’t have to navigate the confusing parts of running a business alone. Get the help of the coaches at Motor Carrier HQ.

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I’ve listened to the Haulin Assets podcast since it started and I knew when I was ready to get my DOT started I would have the guys at Motorcarrier HQ take care of it, well they didn’t disappointed in how quickly and professionally they started my LLC and got me my DOT numbers, I’ll be going back sometime next year for them to get my MC started and complete the process to getting my authority, hope this helps someone who is on the fence.

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