Let’s start by stating the obvious, we’re very pro-consultant and outsourcing, especially in compliance. That said, it’s important to note that at the end of the day, your company is responsible for any fines or rating reductions; regardless if you did work in-house, outsourced, or some combination thereof. Choose true experts to help you run a safe, legal and efficient operation.
Most DOT experts are experts in the trucking industry or more commonly, not really experts at all. Regulations change constantly and before you pay someone for their advice, make sure they know what they’re talking about.
Over the last few years, I’ve read multiple articles and watched multiple videos that simply contained false information. The fine if you follow some of this advice: OVER $25,000 first offense.
Ask your consultant or potential hire how many audits they’ve been through, what percentage of those are passenger carriers, and how long they’ve been directly managing compliance. Simply running your own company or retiring as an inspector does not guarantee they have current, thorough or up-to-date knowledge.
Drug Testing Experts
Drug testing is outsourced by everyone. Operators rely on their partners to be experts in the intricacies of FMCSA regulations so that they can simply send drivers to test and retain the proper forms.
We recently conducted an audit response for a company with 9 violations related to drug and alcohol testing. Nearly all of which should have been caught by a true drug testing expert. Their drug testing vendor, who was licensed by a national franchise, failed to catch or prevent any of them resulting in fines of over $10,000.
Ask your drug testing provider how many FMCSA regulated companies they provide services for. Check the forms used against DOT regulations and ensure you receive copies of all tests and custody control forms. Do not just trust them to keep them for you or to do them properly.
ELDs and Digital Vehicle Inspections
ELD providers love to point out that they are FMCSA approved. This process is simply a self-certification where the person selling the device states that it complies with regulations. Feel comforted? The two most common providers we see are non-compliant.
Digital vehicle inspection providers are generally even worse. Can your driver digitally review the last vehicle inspection in accordance with 396.13(b)? If not, you need to provide a printed copy of each inspection for them to review before they operate. Imagine trying to do that for every 2am run on a vehicle that went out the night before. Reports content is also directed by regulation.
The simple problem is most software designers are not compliance experts. They sell software, usually with long term contracts, to lock you in whether you are happy or not.
Fake experts are everywhere and can cost you tens of thousands in fines while happily collecting your money every month. Take the time to vet your partners, make sure they have the experience, history and expertise in their specific subject area and then double-check their work. No one is perfect, but choosing the right partner goes a long way toward protecting your livelihood.