Navigating Compliance: 6 Must-Dos for Trucking Companies

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Success in the trucking industry doesn’t only require a solid fleet and reliable drivers; it also demands adherence to a complex web of regulations. Failing to comply with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations can lead to a rocky path filled with fines, loss of operating authority, and soaring insurance costs.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned hauler, staying on top of these six categories of regulations will help safeguard your operations against the risks of non-compliance:

  1. Drug and Alcohol Consortium – Each of your drivers will need to participate in a DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Program. Compliance is mandatory and many third-party services can assist you.  In addition, your non-driver safety staff should be trained in detecting and responding to drug and alcohol use.
  2. Driver Qualifications – You must ensure that your drivers meet the minimum qualifications established in the FMCSA‘s rules and regulations.
  3. Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance – Just as hourly employees are given mandated breaks under state law, there are restrictions on how long a driver can spend in service until they need to take a required break. You will need records of all drivers’ hours of duty and when they take their breaks. You must maintain at least six months of drivers’ HOS data but we always recommend retaining these records much longer even if you need to manually download and safer ELD records.
  4. Vehicle Safety Inspections and Maintenance – Each operation vehicle must have a record list ensuring safety. You need to maintain maintenance and inspection records for every commercial vehicle you operate. This includes annual records dating back at least 14 months, pre-trip and post-trip Driver Vehicle Inspection Records, and post-trip inspection reports with flagged problems going back at least 90 days.
  5. Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) Compliance – Are your trucks transporting hazardous materials? If so, the DOT requires a unique set of regulations strictly audited for safety reasons and higher levels of insurance
  6. Licenses and Permits – These can vary by state. A DOT carrier number, Motor Carrier number, Commercial Driver’s License, and a Standard Carrier Alpha Code are commonly required.  Carriers operating in the ports or rail yards may also need interchange agreements and concession agreements.

It’s important to recognize that this is not an exhaustive list. The DOT and FMCSA as well as the State of California have a plethora of rules and regulations that need to be reviewed to stay compliant. The dynamic nature of the trucking industry, along with evolving legal requirements, means that continuous review and updates to your compliance strategy are necessary to ensure full adherence to all current and future regulations. Learn more about our experience in transportation law. Contact us to learn more.