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Survey: Carriers Feel Unprepared for Offsite Audits
6 mins read

According to a recent Foley survey, even in this digital age, many carriers continue to rely on paper driver files—and are wary of offsite audits as a result.

Nearly half (43%) of survey respondents said they still managed critical compliance files in a paper format. The same percentage acknowledged that they wouldn’t feel prepared if selected for an offsite audit.

If this includes you, now is the time to act.

With offsite audits up more than 400% since 2019—and expected to become ever more the industry general practice—converting to a digital recordkeeping and compliance program is no longer an option. Going forward, it is expected that carriers have such a system in place.

Countdown to Driver File Conversion: Are Your Files Ready?

Are you Offsite Audit Ready?

If you’re still using paper files, chances are, probably not.

As the name suggests, offsite audits are handled remotely instead of at the carrier’s place of business (the typical, longstanding practice). Just as with traditional audits and compliance reviews, auditors work closely with carriers to ensure that they are operating a safe and compliant business—only they do so over the phone and online, rather than in person.

Once selected for an audit, carriers are required to scan and submit all compliance documentation digitally within 48 hours. This is compared with the typical 3-to-4-week submission window of the paper-driven past.

Because agents don’t have to go out into the field, it’s a much faster and cheaper process, allowing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to complete more audits in less time, while decreasing individual audit turnaround times, too. Offsite audits take around 12 months to complete, compared to 18 months with traditional in-person/paper audits.

All of these factors seem to indicate that offsite audits are becoming the FMCSA’s go-to auditing method. And looking ahead, the agency has plans to implement a portal where critical documents can be securely uploaded during audits.

The bottom line: Now, more than ever, is the time to embrace the digital age.

Quiz: Are Your Driver Files Offsite Audit Ready?

Automated Compliance

Because you can be chosen for an offsite audit at any time, it is essential that you have a system in place that keeps you compliant.

Particularly in these days of remote everything, paper files are extremely inefficient. Not to mention, maintaining and periodically self-auditing them for accuracy takes a great deal of time and organization. They can often be incomplete—paper can be misplaced or inadvertently destroyed—and it is easy to overlook missing documents and gloss over expiration dates.

All of which can result in violations and fines. According to the FMCSA, roughly 20 percent of all critical violations in 2020 resulted from errors in the driver file process. Top violations included missing medical certificates and failure to retain (and in a secure location) driver employment record inquiries. Remember, with fine amounts on the rise, a single violation could cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000.

Even if you have an up-to-date, well-organized and regularly purged paper system in place, it can be a time-consuming, stressful, arduous task to meet the digital requirements of an offsite audit. After reviewing and self-auditing all documents for compliance, they must then be scanned and sent to an auditor electronically in just a few short days.

Converting your driver files to a digital format is the first step in a fully electronic compliance solution. By working with a partner with an established online system, you will know that your paperwork is digitized and ready to send whenever needed.

Foley helps you build an electronic compliance management system that automates your existing program and houses all of your documents in one secure, easily accessible online portal. We then constantly monitor this system and alert you to important deadlines and dates—such as DOT physicals, MVR reviews, random drug screenings, and CDL and medical card renewals. We’ll also perform MVR monitoring to provide real-time violation alerts on your drivers.

Ultimately, going digital helps improve efficiencies, enhance compliance, and ensure that files are secure and readily accessible, 24/7, no matter where you are. Your files are also better protected than paper files against theft, fire or other disasters.

Running a business and managing a fleet can be challenging enough on their own—so why not simplify things for yourself by reducing manual paper processes? You can focus on what’s most important to you, all while having the peace of mind that your company is in full compliance.

To learn more about Foley’s file management solutions, visit us here or call (800) 253-5506.

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