Every 12 months, commercial motor vehicles (CMV) weighing more than 10,000 pounds must undergo an inspection by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This inspection is to ensure that all parts are in safe and working order. Failure to pass inspection can lead to fines, audits and the suspension of your clearance to operate by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which operates under the jurisdiction of the DOT. Before you submit your annual DOT inspection, review the following information. Knowing what to expect can increase your likelihood of passing the inspection with minimal issues.
The review of your required paperwork is just as important as the physical inspection of your vehicle. Be sure to have the necessary records required by the FMCSA, such as proof of insurance, accident registers, driver documentation (e.g., licenses, drug and alcohol test results, road tests, trainings) and more.
Educate and Prepare Drivers and Employees
You can help prepare your company for a DOT inspection by educating your drivers. Rather than chance certain elements of the inspection slipping through the cracks, take a proactive approach and implement an internal educational program. Regular, company-wide communication of requirements means that you won’t be dependent on a single individual to maintain the necessary compliance and safety protocols that you need to pass your annual DOT inspections.
Maintain Vehicle and Records of Repair
As expected, a major part of passing your annual DOT inspection will be maintaining the condition of your vehicles. To prove that you’ve kept up with maintenance on your trucks, you will have to provide records of repair. Be sure to keep in regular contact with mechanics throughout the year about the status of trucks, parts, equipment and major accessories. This includes making sure that all records of repair are available to inspectors, so they can quickly ensure that any needed repairs from previous inspections have been maintained and that you’ve done your due diligence.
The best and most efficient way to ensure that you’re adequately prepared for your annual DOT inspection is to have an updated checklist system in place. Keep a list of everything needed to pass inspection each year, including all of the necessary reporting requirements. Know which requirements apply to you and make every effort to be over prepared rather than under prepared.
Although it can feel like a hassle when the deadline approaches, the annual DOT inspection is a necessary part of maintaining your legal authority. It also helps ensure that you are safely operating as a truck driver and/or fleet owner. Staying up-to-date on inspection requirements and changes to the FMCSA or DOT regulations is essential to maintaining a thriving and optimized business.