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Staying Compliant as a Small Motor Carrier
4 mins read

May 3, 2016 – Anybody who has gone through the process of obtaining a DOT number has had some experience with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Oftentimes smaller businesses and owner operators assume their time with the FMCSA ends when that process is complete. We tend to think of the FMCSA as the agency whose primary responsibility is to monitor multi-driver, long-haul trucking fleets.

Interestingly enough, many large trucking fleets remain in fairly good standing with the FMCSA while the “little guys” tend to find themselves in hot water. Why is that?  You would think that larger companies would encounter more problems with the DOT; but as any small business owner who has undergone a DOT audit can attest to, that is not always the case.

How Does the FMCSA Differentiate Between Large and Small Motor Carriers?

In a nutshell, it doesn’t. The FMCSA holds anybody who is required to have a DOT number to the same standards regardless of their type of business or the size of their company.

Many small business owners don’t believe that maintaining compliance with federal regulations is a component of their business that deserves time and effort. After all, I am just a small local business….what does the FMCSA care about me? That is the very thinking that can get you in trouble. Just as filing your taxes with the IRS is a necessary component of your business, so is maintaining compliance with the FMCSRs.

How Can I Make Sure I am in Compliance with the FMCSRs?

Learn the regulations

Pick up a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations book or log onto the FMCSA website at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/. Begin to familiarize yourself with the regulations and learn what your requirements consist of.

Get Organized

Organization is crucial. You should create a filing system specifically designed for keeping records of at least:

  • Driver Logs/Time Records
  • Vehicle Maintenance Records
  • Drug & Alcohol Testing
  • Roadside Inspection Reports

Not good with paperwork and staying organized? Then think about hiring an individual, or outsource to a company, such as Foley, who is. Paying an individual to keep track of regulatory paperwork will cost a lot less in money, time and stress than trying to iron out a problematic audit with the FMCSA.

Purchase Training and/or Software

There are various websites and companies that offer training and software to assist you with compliance in Hours of Service, Vehicle Maintenance Recordkeeping and Drug & Alcohol Testing.

Federal regulations are vast, complex and can be daunting.  It is easy to feel as if the FMCSA is “out to get the little guy,” but safety is the primary objective.  Having general knowledge of rules and believing your company’s safety standards are on par with the FMCSA’s expectations is not enough. You need to acquire adequate understanding of the regulations and implement an effective system of maintaining compliance.

Questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments section below!

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