For trucking companies, keeping your fleet on the road and your drivers safe is a must. It all starts with purchasing the right trucks for the job at hand. At Transwest, we help trucking companies locate the perfect tractors and trailers for their needs.
Another key part of keeping your company operating smoothly is adhering to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and guidelines. Many of these guidelines exist to keep your employees safe and ensure that other drivers on the road are kept safe as well. The DOT focuses on protecting roadways from damage due to overweight loads as well as verifying that trucks in operation are well maintained.
For trucking companies, the following key DOT tips can help keep you in compliance while also certifying road safety.
Understand USDOT Number Requirements
For many trucking companies, vehicle registration is a large part of remaining compliant with both federal and state laws. One form of truck registration is acquiring a USDOT number. This number is provided to trailers that have been registered with the DOT, ensuring compliance with all federal regulations.
Who Needs a USDOT Number?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, a USDOT number is required for the following reasons:
- You have a vehicle that is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce (see 49 CFR 385.403) and is involved in interstate commerce
- You have a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater and is involved in interstate commerce
- You have a vehicle that is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation and is involved in interstate commerce
- You have a vehicle that is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver. But not used to transport passengers for compensation and is involved in interstate commerce
They define interstate commerce as activities that include trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States:
- Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States)
- Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States
- Between two places in a State as part of a trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.
In addition to federal regulations, specific states also require a DOT number. States that require a USDOT number for intrastate commercial motor vehicles include:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Ensure Your Drivers Are Compliant with Drug and Alcohol Testing
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the DOT together require that drivers of commercial vehicles adhere to specific drug and alcohol regulations.
People who carry commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) must adhere to testing on an ongoing basis. Employers of drivers holding CDLs are responsible for upholding these regulations.
Who should I test?
According to the FMCSA, you must test all CDL drivers who are responsible for operating commercial motor vehicles. This includes your part-time, intermittent, backup, and international drivers, along with all your full-time drivers.
When should I test?
Tests should be administered in the following scenarios:
- Pre-employment: a negative test result must be received before allowing a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
- After an accident: in certain cases, as outlined by the FMCSA, you will need to test a driver after an accident has occurred.
- Randomly: random drug tests are required throughout the year.
- Reasonable suspicion: if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol as observed by a supervisor, a drug test can be administered.
There are additional situations where a drug test might be required, such as when a driver is returning to duty after having failed a drug test previously. The FMCSA outlines in full detail each scenario in which a drug test might be required.
Drug and Alcohol Testing Resources
For further information, check out the following resources regarding drug and alcohol testing compliance.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing MIS Data Collection Form
- Drug and Alcohol Testing MIS Data Collection Form Instructions
- Drug and Alcohol Testing Brochure for Drivers
- Best Practices for DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Testing
- Implementation Guidelines for Alcohol and Drug Regulations
Focus on Tire Safety
When you are operating a trucking company, it can feel like the regulations that exist equate to a frustrating amount of paperwork and upkeep. However, many of the key initiatives from the FMCSA exist to keep your drivers safe and your business running smoothly.
One major focus of this administration is tire safety. Partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Office of Defects Investigations (ODI), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), the FMCSA put together the following information found in their USDOT Tire Advisory Card to ensure improved tire safety on the road:
- Tire Inspection: Every single day, your drivers should inspect their tires for irregular treadwear, cracking, bulges, cuts, foreign objects, other damage, and inadequate tread depth. Any issues should be addressed with a mechanic before operating the truck.
- Inflation Pressure: Before any trip, have your drivers gauge their tires and adjust accordingly. The inflation pressure of tires will affect their wear and safety.
- Rims Only: Make sure that your trailers only utilize approved tire and rim combinations. Mismatching tires and rims can lead to the tire exploding, which can cause serious and often fatal accidents.
- Extreme Loading: Never allow your drivers to overload their trailers. Overloaded trailers can cause tire failure during driving.
- Speed: Learn the speed ratings of your fleet, and be sure your drivers adhere to this speed rating. Exceeding this speed rating will damage the tires and can lead to roadside tire failure.
Maintain Clear and Organized Records
Finally, be sure that you maintain clear and organized records on your entire fleet of flatbed trucks and trailers. The following are all important documents to have on hand at all times:
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Driver records, such as drug and alcohol test results, proof of CDLs, etc.
- DOT records, such as USDOT numbers, proof of inspections
- Insurance documents
- Driver logs
The DOT exists to help keep our roads safe. For trucking companies, remaining compliant with the DOT is about so much more than legalities. It is a way to ensure that you are keeping your drivers safe and maintaining your fleet in top shape.
At Transwest, we are here to help you find the right flatbed trucks for your business. We understand how important it is to keep your business moving forward, which is why we offer an inventory of flatbed trucks backed by leading manufacturers, such as Freightliner, Lohr, Western Star, and more. Come talk to our team today about finding the right flatbed trucks for your needs.
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