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Carriers have a lot of rules and regulations to learn and abide by. That’s just part of the job. But the more you master compliance, the more your business will thrive.

While a strong understanding of compliance requirements typically occurs with time and experience, it’s necessary to have a solid grasp of the various rules and requirements, regardless of what stage you are in building your business. Compliance can be tricky, so do yourself a favor and take the time to regularly read and discuss common compliance matters. Doing so will save you time and reduce headaches in the long run.

Even though regulations affecting the trucking industry can be complex, with the right systems in place, your trucking operation can run smoothly and stay compliant. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a detailed list of regulations. Carriers should take some time to review FMCSA’s full list, but we’ve compiled some highlights you can take a look at to help monitor regulatory compliance.

Following HOS regulations

The FMCSA’s Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicles affect everyone. In fact, mechanics and other occasional drivers are subject to HOS rules even if they don’t necessarily complete a Record of Duty Status (RODS) log. HOS regulations say that property-carrying drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty, among other limitations and work-break balances for commercial vehicle drivers.

Different states set regulations that govern interstate commerce, and states’ rules can differ from federal rules. So, vehicles that engage in intrastate commerce can abide by state guidelines, but crossing state lines would place them under federal regulations.

Your BASIC Status and CSA Score

The FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) relies on a BASIC status (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) for monitoring carriers’ safety measures. BASIC status can provide insight into a company’s safety compliance and performance and takes into account truck inspections, violations, crashes, and other considerations.

BASIC status is affected by:

    • Unsafe driving: Speeding, reckless driving, inattention, not wearing seatbelts, and other unsafe practices can lower BASIC status.
    • HOS compliance: Failing to comply with HOS requirements can negatively affect status, as can failing to log hours properly.
    • Vehicle Maintenance: Mechanical issues or necessary maintenance involving brakes, lights, and other components must be addressed.
    • Crash indicator: Involvement with any crashes can affect status.
    • Alcohol/controlled substances: Possession or use of a controlled substance or alcohol will affect BASIC status.
    • Hazardous materials compliance: Improper packaging, leaking containers, and improper placards, among other materials and containment issues, can be damaging.
    • Driver fitness: Truck drivers must be fit enough to operate a commercial motor vehicle, have a valid license, and not have a medical condition that prevents safe operation.

The FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) Score considers these safety and compliance parameters discussed above to determine motor carriers’ and drivers’ level of safety and compliance.

The SMS uses BASIC status to group carriers with other carriers that have a similar number of safety events (e.g., crashes, inspections, or violations) and then ranks carriers and assigns a percentile from 0 to 100 (the higher the percentile, the worse the performance) to prioritize them for interventions.

MC Numbers and DOT Numbers

When you run a trucking company, you may need a DOT Number, an MC Number, or both, as required by the FMCSA. What’s the difference?

A DOT Number is like a driver’s license for your trucking company and verifies your operating status with the FMCSA. An FMCSA DOT Number verifies that you’re using a vehicle commercially, whether to haul your own products or working with a qualified commercial motor vehicle and service.

An MC Number is also known as operating authority or trucking authority. It’s most commonly required when conducting work-for-hire in interstate commerce or hauling hazardous materials. Obtaining an MC Number is more expensive than a DOT Number and requires a $300 fee as determined by FMCSA. If a carrier is only moving freight intrastate, then an MC Number is not required. However, an intrastate DOT Number is required.

Using Tools and an ELD to Maintain Compliance

Keeping up with the ever-changing regulatory requirements can be time-consuming. Drivers must diligently maintain accurate compliance documentation, as violations can affect a company’s SMS for as long as 24 months. Luckily, carriers can leverage technology to simplify the process of staying on top of regulatory changes to stay compliant and avoid penalties.

The FMCSA requires that drivers of commercial vehicles complete a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) that notes any missing or unsafe equipment on the vehicle. Many companies have used labels to mark inspection points on vehicles, however, exposure to the sun, rain and other harsh driving conditions can render traditional sticker options unreadable. Avoid losing points on a truck inspection with durable data plates and equipment tags that remain readable throughout a vehicle’s lifespan.

Additionally, there are tools that help monitor compliance requirements for drivers.

Xpress Technologies is finding new solutions and bringing the best technologies forward to help shippers move their freight and to support carriers building their own operation. We aim to be an invaluable resource for carriers looking to grow their fleet or start their trucking business.