Your Simple Five-Step DOT Compliance Training Checklist


Contrary to popular belief, Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance isn’t something only trucking companies have to be concerned with. DOT compliance should be a focal point of any business that carries out business tasks on our roadways – whether it’s transporting goods, materials, or passengers.

DOT rules and regulations specifically apply to any vehicle (and its driver) used in interstate commerce with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs. or more. This is how much the manufacturer thinks the vehicle can safely carry, which includes the actual weight of the vehicle itself.

While people may envision big rigs when they think of DOT regulations, a ¾ to one ton pickup truck can have a GVWR in the 8,000 to 10,000 lb. range. Adding any cargo or a trailer to that can easily put you over the 10,001 GVWR requirement for DOT compliance.

When MAC Safety meets with a new company to embark on DOT compliance training, helping them develop their very own DOT compliance checklist is an important first step to ensuring they remain in the DOT’s good graces.

Since DOT regulations themselves can be full of complicated and boring legal jargon, we’ve come up with five easy-to-understand items that are absolute musts on any DOT compliance checklist.

Up-To-Date Driver Qualification File

You must stay on top of all records required for your drivers. These employee documents should be kept in one personnel file. Specific records and documentation demonstrating the employee is qualified, safe, and healthy enough to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) should be in this file.

Such documents should include the employee’s initial application, annual Motor Vehicle reports (MVRs), a list of any moving violations, medical certifications (DOT medical evaluation is required once every 24 months at minimum), and their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), proper endorsements, and road test certifications. No driver should be operating a vehicle on the road without these things.

Electronic Driver Logs

In December of 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. These devices are integrally synchronized with a truck’s engine and will electronically track a driver’s hours of service. Data is usually passed to dispatchers or safety and fleet managers in real-time. Everything from driving reports to behaviors (speeding, hard braking, idling), to routes can be monitored.

Accident/Incident Reports

Anything that happens on the road needs to be documented as soon as they happen. Reportable DOT accidents include anything where there’s significant bodily injury (for instance, if someone is taken by ambulance), a fatality, or at least one vehicle is towed from the accident scene.

The date, time, and location of the accident/incident, names of involved parties, number of injuries or fatalities, any hazardous material leakage, and copies of all accident reports should be kept of file for at least 3-5 years.

Even minor accidents/incidents where there’s no liability claim filed against the company or driver should be documented somewhere – just to be on the safe side.

Drug Screening Records

DOT regulations require companies to drug screen all drivers prior to employment and then re-test at least half of them randomly every year. Drivers should be notified they’re about to be tested and then tested immediately afterward.

Any driver that fails a drug test must be pulled off the road right away. This is important since the DOT commonly fines any company that drags their feet to produce paperwork for a driver that has failed a test and needs to complete a substance abuse program.

Document Comprehensive Annual Reviews

DOT regulations require that a company’s safety manager meet with each driver annually for an annual review. This typically involves a quick overview of the driver’s MVR and then both parties signing the document. If the driver’s MVR is clean, this meeting could be as short as one or two minutes; however, we recommend that this time be used to really talk to and connect with your drivers. This is a good way to retain drivers since it helps define your expectations of them and understand their expectations of you and your company.

Interested in DOT Safety Training in Pittsburgh?

MAC Safety provides DOT safety training in and around Pittsburgh, PA. DOT compliance should not be tackled alone. Let our DOT compliance consultants steer you to the right path. Call us today at 724-513-4491.