Essential Tips to Avoid DOT Violations

Essential Tips to Avoid DOT Violations

Compliance | 01/26/2023
Written by Stacy Conner

Whatever the size of the fleet you’re managing, knowing how to avoid DOT violations is essential. Compliance with the U.S. Department of Transport’s regulations ensures the safety of drivers and helps keep roads safe. Aside from that, you will also avoid heavy fines and severe consequences as a result of it. DOT compliance is a preventative measure that fleet managers should take seriously.

Losing your DOT registration, paying thousands of dollars for preventable issues, or getting an out-of-service order are just a few consequences of DOT violations. More than 5,000 roadside deaths occur in the USA each year as a result of improper vehicle maintenance or driver behavior. DOT violations are to be taken seriously, and avoided at all costs. That’s what we’re here to help you with today.

Let’s get to know the most common DOT violations, and cover the best ways to ensure that our fleet meets these regulations.  

Common DOT Violations:

It is always best to be prepared for a roadside inspection because DOT inspections can occur at any time. Although specific rules vary by state, police officers always have the right to pull over drivers if they notice a potential violation. These are just a few of the most common violations:

Vehicle Violations:

Driver Violations:

Fleet managers can check the official FMCSA publications for a full list of driver and vehicle violations. Now that we’ve covered some of the basic violations, let’s take a look at the best preventive measures to avoid noncompliance.

Truck driver behind the wheel

Here are 5 Tips for Avoiding DOT Violations:

  1. Promote Driver Safety
  2. Practice Preventative Maintenance
  3. Hire the Right Drivers
  4. Pay Attention when Securing Cargo
  5. Maintain Good Behavior During Inspections

Promote Driver Safety

Fleet managers should strive to educate drivers on roadside behavior, and promote a culture of driver safety within their business. Outlining safety policies, holding training sessions, and keeping drivers updated on regulations will put them on the same page, reducing incidents of non-compliance. It is highly recommended that accidents and violations be reviewed as a team. It often helps to discuss what went wrong, and making recommendations can help to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Practice Preventative Maintenance

In many cases, DOT violations occur because of improper vehicle maintenance, which drivers cannot control. Even so, short pre and post-inspections should be done with every trip they take. This way, the most common issues like inoperable lamps or turn signals can be identified and resolved. More importantly, getting your trucks regularly maintained by a team of professionals greatly lowers the chances of these issues. At Equipment Experts, we provide preventative maintenance programs to ensure that your vehicles don’t run into unexpected issues on the road.

Truck driver fills his truck with gas

Hire the Right Drivers

Managing a crew of safe drivers starts with hiring right. Fleet managers should ensure that they hire drivers with clean track records for compliance and safety. Certain driving habits can be difficult to break, and unfortunately, drivers with a history of non-compliance are far more likely to repeat their mistakes. Having a pre-employment screening program can help decide which potential employees should, and shouldn’t make the cut.

Pay Attention when Securing Cargo

It is important to remember that load security is one of the most overlooked DOT metrics. Violations for accidental spillage, cargo shifting, and overturning are more common than you’d think. There are different standards of cargo securing for different types of vehicles. This means that different rules apply to flatbeds than semi-trucks, and so on. Your drivers must know how to properly load and secure their cargo. They should also be advised on carrying out yard checks before starting every trip.

Maintain Good Behavior During Inspections

Violations are violations. There is no way you can get out of a serious penalty by smiling and being polite. During your inspection, however, you might be able to get some slack from the DOT officer if you are respectful and well-behaved, especially for smaller mistakes. Let’s take a look at some of the basic behavioral guidelines during an inspection:

These general guidelines will make sure that your roadside inspection goes smoothly. There’s nothing worse than a driver trying to get the upper hand with their inspector, especially when their fault is apparent.

Driving across the mountains

Final Words

The best way to avoid DOT violations is to make sure both your vehicles and drivers are operating in top conditions. This means keeping trucks well maintained, their records and details updated, and their cargo properly loaded while on the road. It also means making the right hiring choices, and following up on drivers with regular meetings to discuss optimal driving practices. With just a few steps followed, fleet managers can stay on top of their game to reduce their fleet’s DOT violations, keep CSO scores low, and help keep our roads safe.

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