Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s for Motor Carrier Compliance
Friday, February 16, 2024
by: Terry Reil- Pro Fleet LLC

Section: Project Roadsafe

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Compliance.  An innocuous word until, you’re not.  Fleet or commercial motor vehicle compliance is often not the first thought on our minds when we begin our work day.  Often, it’s not the third, tenth, or even fifteenth thought on our minds.  Let’s face it, we’re contractors, construction companies, electricians, and plumbers.  We’re concerned with our jobs and a truck is just another piece of equipment we use to get the job done.  We’re not truckers or trucking companies.
Over the last 10 – 15 years, we’ve all become much better at incorporating safety into our businesses.  Why?  Because OSHA and MSHA do inspections, investigate accidents, and intervene when there’s a complaint.  In addition, our insurance companies have taken a large step to reduce their potential payouts by risk mitigation primarily through requiring safe working initiatives and practices.
The commercial motor vehicle world has lagged behind in this trend.  Since the inception of CDL’s in the mid-nineties, advancements in overall compliance has been slow and grudgingly accepted.  Most embrace it as a necessary evil just so we can operate our own truck.
Compliance in commercial motor vehicle operations is coming of age whether you’re ready for it or not.  While we’re up to an iPhone 15, artificial intelligence, and new and amazing electronic gadgets that do any sort of things you can imagine, digitized compliance, databases, and prioritized preview of compliance data is now efficiently identifying underperformers in the trucking world.  It was only a matter of time before computer databases and data analysts would become the new enforcement officer.
With the Covid pandemic, this type of electronic compliance intervention gained momentum.  Remote or off-site reviews and assessments became the tool of choice.  These numbers spiked while on-site visits dropped to an all-time low.  Fast forward to our current post-pandemic re-adjustment and they haven’t gone away.  In fact, they remain with great effectiveness and efficiency.  Couple that with the new compliance databases and electronic logging devices, compliance intervention is reaching more motor carriers than ever.
On-site reviews and assessments are back on the rise post-pandemic but rest assured, the new tool of off-site audits is not going away.  What does all this mean for you, the construction company that utilizes commercial motor vehicles to get the job done?  It means commercial motor vehicle compliance needs to become a priority just as OSHA and MSHA have.  If it doesn’t, the likelihood of being identified for compliance intervention is a very real possibility.
As with many things, not knowing what we don’t know is likely one of the greatest barriers to becoming proficient in our motor carrier compliance.  The other barrier?  Unfortunately, the attitude or culture that much of this is elective and I’ve never had a problem so why start this now.  The former is fairly easy to overcome.  The latter, not so much.  Often, it takes compliance intervention to incentivize changing that culture.  Once that is achieved, this too becomes easily overcome.
Many companies opt to handle their own compliance strategies while others engage outside vendors that specialize in this type of work and others still utilize some variation of both.  Regardless of which strategy you choose, this is always a better option than learning through enforcement action.
Vendors such as PRO Fleet LLC from East Barre, VT provide motor carriers with compliance support from simply being a resource to answer questions to full service management of some or all of your compliance processes and procedures.  Those may include driver onboarding, internal self-reviews and assessments, drug and alcohol testing, motor carrier focused safety training, management of recurring reviews and inquiries, fleet maintenance, or tracking of expirations.  All help improve your compliance portfolio and assist you with the heavy lifting.
Gaining control and understanding of your motor carrier compliance is no further away than identifying it, evaluating where you’re at, making a plan to remediate it, and finally executing that plan.  As contractors, you do this every day with your jobs and project management.  Identify the goal and implement steps to get there in a preset timeline.  Once you’ve accomplished this, maintaining that compliance becomes very manageable.
Check in next issue to learn more about how to dot your i’s and cross your t’s for motor carrier compliance.