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What We’re Hearing from the Industry on DOT Compliance Software
Mariah Barr
9 mins read

Meeting FMCSA Clearinghouse, driver file recordkeeping, and other federal compliance requirements is easier with DOT compliance software.

Foley has recommended switching from a paper filing system to DOT compliance software since offsite audits became the new normal in 2019, and as time goes on, the need for companies to make the transition is only increasing  if they don’t want to risk failing an audit.

But that doesn’t mean everyone has, or plans to, make the switch. 

We (virtually) sat down with Steve Harz, Foley’s Corporate Compliance Consultant, to discuss this very topic. If his name sounds familiar, you may have seen him host many of our webinars!

Steve is a DOT compliance expert and has played a huge role in helping companies of all sizes stay compliant and audit-ready for the past seven years. He is extremely knowledgeable about driver qualification file (DQF) requirements, the FMCSA Clearinghouse, and Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores. 

During our talk, we covered the following points: 

  • Real issues Steve has seen and heard about paper driver files
  • Exactly what is holding companies back from making the switch to software
  • The benefits of transitioning to an electronic compliance management system 

Let’s start with some of the not-so-good experiences companies have had with paper driver files.

Paper Driver File Problems

“We had a rep who spoke to a safety manager about offsite audits and going digital at a 50-driver company in Ohio,” Steve said. “It was news to her. She got on board, but we couldn’t convince the owner because he didn’t want to spend the money. We called the company again a month later, and they were being audited right that very second. They failed because they couldn’t submit anything electronically and were put out of service.”

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. In other words, if your company hasn’t converted its driver files to a digital compliance system, you could face the same fate.

Another story Steve told us was about a severe storm that hit the coast of Texas about five years ago. “A rep spoke to a company whose files were destroyed when their office was flooded. They had to re-create their entire DOT recordkeeping process from scratch,” Steve lamented.

If this company had DOT compliance software with a cloud-based platform in place, their files would have been safe and sound. 

Lastly, Steve shared a common paper files problem companies were facing in 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic. He went on to tell us, “When everyone was sent home and paper files were locked in a file in the office they could not access, that didn’t stop the DOT from conducting audits.”  

When the DOT made the announcement in the fall of 2018 that paper files wouldn’t be accepted during offsite audits, they were serious. The possibilities of failing an audit and facing hefty fines are on the line. So, why isn’t every DOT-regulated company taking this seriously?

The Most Common Reason Companies Avoid Switching to DOT Compliance Software

The biggest opposition Steve experiences is the uneasiness companies have about the transition from strictly paper recordkeeping to all-digital file management software. As he said, “The pain of making the switch is seemingly so great that they would rather roll the dice and not do anything about it.” 

He went on to tell us he has unfortunately interacted with companies that did not abide by the FMCSA Clearinghouse up to 15 months into the program being in place – no pre-employment queries, no annual queries, absolutely nothing done with it – and didn’t think it was that big of a deal. In reality, if they were fined, it could cost them up to $4.9 million! 

“Moving from an internal process to a vendor does take some work, but once it’s in place, it’s smooth sailing,” he said.  

However, in the words of Steve himself, “There are still some companies that do everything and anything to be compliant – this isn’t about them.” 

Customer-Approved Advantages of Foley DOT Compliance Software

For the companies that do go above and beyond in terms of compliance, they certainly have a lot of good things to say about working with Foley to get there. 

Here are some of the top benefits of Foley's DOT compliance software, heard through Steve’s customer interactions.

Alerts & Notifications

“Our ability to set up a warning system for expiring documents, such as driver’s licenses and medical cards, gives companies 60 days to take action prior to their expiration dates. Easy renewal of important documents is very well-liked,” Steve said.

Background & Pre-employment Screenings

“Most customers hated the process of pre-employment verification. They didn’t like making contact, and they typically get just over 20% of responses from their drivers’ previous employers. The Clearinghouse has fixed this, and our pre-employment query success rate at Foley is approximately 80%,” he said.

Consistent Hiring in a Single Platform

Steve explained: “Many companies we speak to have multiple geographic locations. Each location has different hiring departments and processes – all it takes is one lacking location to fail an audit. Our application process provides consistency across the organization.”

Using one hiring platform can help ensure your many business locations are following the same compliance processes and that your new hires receive the proper training and onboarding.

Ongoing Driver File management

“We maintain driver files on an ongoing basis and perform continuous MVR checks through MVR monitoring,” he explained. “All annual queries are conducted for FMCSA Clearinghouse compliance and companies are continuously audit-ready. The lead time for digital audits is 48 hours – there’s no time to play catch-up anymore!”

Foley's DOT compliance platform stores all your compliance documents in a digital format, so there's no need to panic if you're selected for an offsite audit with a restricted time limit to submit your files to the FMCSA.

Convenient Recordkeeping File Access

“All files can be accessed at all times from any device, regardless of the circumstances or in the event of an emergency,” he said. There's no need to worry about security breaches, either. Your drivers' sensitive information is protected and only accessible by those you've trusted with your platform login.

An Easier Way to Manage DOT Compliance is Waiting for You

Historically, companies regulated by the DOT have had to engage multiple third-party vendors or internal departments to hire drivers and get them behind the wheel. Foley consolidates the process and puts all your compliance programs, like FMCSA Clearinghouse and MVR checks, under one roof – and as Steve put it, “You can’t find it anywhere else in the industry. You get a single point of contact and a single invoice for all the compliance services you need.” 

Slipping through the cracks and doing the bare minimum to prepare for DOT audits is no longer an option. Foley’s completely digital platform helps you take your company’s safety and compliance to the next level.

If you would like to work with one of our experienced compliance specialists like Steve, request a free demo of our DOT compliance software solution.


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