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The Complete DOT Audit Checklist

March 28, 2023

DOT Audit Checklist

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regularly conducts audits to ensure companies comply with all regulations. Since 2010, the number of DOT audits has increased. This increase is due, in part, to the DOT’s implementation of the Safety Measurement System, which compiles data from all roadside inspections and weigh stations.

After gathering data from the Safety Measurement System, the DOT assigns each carrier a score. Companies that have a high number of violations are at the highest risk of being audited. It’s important for all carriers to make sure they are always prepared because DOT audits often take place with little or no advance notice. 

Maintaining detailed records throughout the year can help your audit go more smoothly and ensure your business will pass. A system designed to keep your business compliant at all times is key to passing a DOT audit. Your system should capture all the necessary information and keep your data well organized.

What Kind of DOT Audit Are You Getting?

There are different kinds of DOT audits:

  • New entrant audit
  • Security audit
  • Hazardous materials audit
  • Compliance review

A new entrant audit is for motor carriers that have recently filed with the DOT. It will be completed within three to six months of issuing a DOT number. It’s designed to ensure you comply with all required safety regulations as your business gets up and running.

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A security audit reviews your safety plan, driver training, and security measures.

For a hazardous materials audit, the DOT will review processes such as training, policy, shipping documentation, and labeling of hazardous materials.

The Complete DOT Audit Checklist 

Having the right paperwork and knowing where it is means you won’t have to scramble when the DOT shows up for an audit. Showing attention to detail can be the difference between passing and failing an audit.

Here’s a checklist of the documents and paperwork that you should have readily available in the event of an audit:

__ A current copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)

__ An up-to-date MCS-90 form showing liability insurance coverage that meets the limit required for your operation to protect you in the event of a company vehicle collision

__ A written program/policy for drug and alcohol use and testing

__ A summary of all drug and alcohol testing conducted in the past calendar year, along with the current status of any drivers who tested positive

__ Motor vehicle records (MVRs) on all new and rehired drivers

__ A copy of pre-employment drug tests for all drivers

__ Proof that all drivers hold a current commercial driver's license (CDL)

__ Six months of completed driver logs on all drivers

__ At least 14 months of valid annual inspections for all operating commercial motor vehicle equipment

__ Complete maintenance records

__ A current DOT security plan

__ 90 days of post-trip inspection reports for each commercial vehicle in which defects have been found

Updating Driver Qualification Files

Every DOT audit will include a review of driver qualification files, so it is crucial that these files are always kept up-to-date. The required information for each driver’s file includes the following:

__ An annual documented review of the driver’s certificate of violations

__ A record of a valid road test 

__ Documentation showing that the driver’s employment history was investigated before hiring

__ Training materials on drug and alcohol programs, with a signed receipt from the driver

__ Any and all instructions to drivers about convictions for moving violations (The instructions must be given within 30 days of the violation.)

Reviewing Essential Processes

Certain processes must be in place and documented to pass your audit. Those include:

__ A current accident register

__ A progressive disciplinary action system for drivers

__ Written hiring policies

__ A process for documenting drivers’ medical certificates and removing the driver if the certificate is out of date

__ A process to keep all CDLs current, with driver removal if it expires

__ A process for checking all drivers’ logs for accuracy

__ A system to control working hours and ensure compliance

No one looks forward to a DOT audit, but knowing what to expect will ensure it goes smoothly when it does happen. Ensure that you have the information on this checklist ready, so you can feel confident and prepared when a DOT audit occurs. 

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