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How DOT Recordkeeping Has Changed
5 mins read

COVID-19 has ushered in a whole new digital era for the trucking industry.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has modernized its recordkeeping and auditing processes and shifted predominantly to offsite audits (which are up a dramatic 400% since 2019).

As a carrier operating today, you are simply expected to have a digital recordkeeping solution in place. When flagged for an audit, you must now turn over all required documentation in  a digital format, and faster than ever before: Within 48 hours, compared to the 3–4 week turnaround window of the past.

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Because offsite audits can occur at any time, you must always be prepared. Failing an audit can lead to consequences such as fines of up to $5,000 per violation; deactivation of DOT numbers; out-of-service orders; and corrective action plans.

The fact of the matter is that most DOT audit violations can be prevented by effectively managing paperwork. Here’s what you need to know—and what you can do to protect your business, your drivers, and manage files safely and compliantly.

Going Digital

As you well know, all businesses regulated by the FMCSA must maintain a multitude of records for their safety, compliance, and insurance programs. These include Driver Qualification Files; DOT drug and alcohol testing files; DOT Clearinghouse query records; hours of service logs; proof of insurance; inspection, repair and maintenance records; and training records.

What’s more, these records must be kept for minimum (and varying) periods of time, and some must be retained in secure locations—that is, under lock and key—to protect sensitive information.

This is no doubt a lot to keep track of. And with new FMCSA expectations, traditional paper files are no longer a viable, or compliant, option. This is because:

  • They are not offsite compliant ready.
  • They are only accessible in one location.
  • There is a greater risk of incomplete and illegible files.
  • There is a greater risk of theft, loss, or damaged files.
  • It can be much more difficult to manage document retention times and expiration dates.

Digitized files and, especially, online compliance management systems, on the other hand, help ensure that all records are secure and readily available when auditors come calling (either for an annual or a surprise offsite audit).

Digital Recordkeeping Now Required! Get Offsite Audit Ready Now

Other benefits to online compliance management include:

  • Greater file organization.
  • Simplified file maintenance.
  • Less margin for error, making compliance programs easier to maintain.

Not All Digital Solutions Created Equal

A third-party provider can make your life a whole lot easier, helping keep you compliant by managing and updating your files and automating many required processes. Still, it’s important to find the right partner.

Appointments Still Available: Get Your Demo of Foley's Digital Compliance & Recordkeeping Solution 

What to look for:

  • A system with scanned, digitized files that can be easily accessed from any location or device (which, beyond the offsite audit factor, is especially important these days with so many employees working remotely).
  • A system that keeps adequate track of deadlines and provides alerts when they’re approaching—so, for instance, you know exactly when to remind drivers to schedule DOT physicals or to apply for license renewals. This way, you don’t have to manually track dates. As you know, that can be time-consuming, and you can easily slip up and miss a deadline—which could lead to fines and other violations.
  • A system that alerts you to any changes in a driver’s MVR: If they have had an accident, DUI or other traffic citations, or if they’re taking actions as they’re supposed to, such as regularly updating their medical cards.

At Foley, we start by converting all existing paper driver files into digital format, then help manage them on an ongoing basis so that they are consistently complete and compliant. Our compliance management tools also include DOT background check and Clearinghouse services, drug and alcohol testing, and audit support.

Want to learn more about Foley’s compliance solutions? Contact us today!

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