What is My DOT Audit Risk?

Make sure your operation has the proper safety controls in place to reduce audit risk.

Published On: 06/07/2019
Semi truck roll over accident
J. J. Keller Editor Kathy Close

Written by:

Kathy Close

Transport Safety Editor — J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

You can assess your risk of a DOT audit by performing a self-audit of the crashes that appear on your accident register and by making the necessary adjustments to your safety management program. These two actions can help you significantly reduce future audits and accidents across your fleet. Make sure your operation has the proper safety management controls in place by establishing the following key elements: policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities, communication and training, monitoring and tracking and taking meaningful action.

Policies and Procedures

Ensure you have established policies regarding how your employees should behave in a given situation and procedures to explain how those policies will be accomplished. According to the Crash Indicator BASIC, you should have policies and procedures in place related to:

  • Accident filing and tracking
  • Accident review (preventability and contributing factors)
  • Accident investigation (on scene risk assessment)
  • Accident preventability evaluations
  • Review of driver’s accident record prior to onboarding and annually thereafter
  • Accident-free recognition and incentives
  • Progressive disciplinary action
  • Remedial training programs
  • Formal fleet safety program

Roles and Responsibilities

Define the roles and responsibilities of each employee involved in successfully implementing those policies and procedures around accident investigation.

Communication and Training

Communicate accident-related policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities through a well-designed training program to ensure everyone involved understands the expectations and has the adequate skills and knowledge to perform their assigned function. Determine which training formats are most suitable for your operation and trainee, and document everything.

Monitoring and Tracking

Ensure a system is in place that allows you to evaluate employees’ safety performance, compliance with your policies and procedures, and execution of their individual roles and responsibilities around accident investigation. You should be monitoring:

  • Serious, injury and fatal accidents
  • Slow maneuvering and non-reportable accidents
  • Crash rate by driver, manager/dispatcher, location, and USDOT number
  • Each driver’s accident score card

Meaningful Action

As you continue to monitor your employees’ behaviors, take meaningful action to correct identified issues. Consider refresher training and positive reinforcement, as well as rewards or bonuses. Be deliberate in establishing a schedule for how often remedial training will be conducted and rewards distributed.   

By conducting a self-audit of your accident register, you’ll not only be better prepared for a DOT audit, you’ll be better prepared to avoid one. When accident prevention becomes a focus of a carrier, the accident rate typically goes down.

To assess your fleet’s regulatory risk using the seven CSA BASICs, request your FREE copy of J. J. Keller’s DOT Audit Workbook.

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