Recovering from a DOT Violation: A Comprehensive Guide
As previously discussed, encounters with Department of Transportation (DOT) violations can seem almost like an unfortunate inevitability of working in the trucking industry.
However, by following 6 key steps, this is something that you can navigate; and in this article we seek to expand on that.
We will go over what follows after receiving a DOT violation and guide you through the process of recovery step-by-step.
Step 1: Creating a Corrective Action Plan (CAP):
Upon receiving a DOT violation and understanding its implications, the first course of action should be to create a Corrective Action Plan (CAP).
This is an essential document that both outlines the safety deficiencies related to the violation and identifies what led to these deficiencies. Furthermore, it highlights the corrective measures taken to address them to avoid recurrence.
This typically comprises elements such as additional safety training, modifications in procedures, or equipment upgrades to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
The CAP must be submitted to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) within approximately 15 days after receiving a Safety Audit failure notice. Its submission requires the co-signature of a company owner or officer.
It’s crucial to not just create the plan, but also to ensure that it is thoroughly implemented. Documenting the actions taken as per the CAP is important as it serves as evidence for the subsequent steps.
Step 2: Requesting a Safety Rating Upgrade:
After addressing the deficiencies outlined in your CAP, the next step is to apply for a safety rating upgrade.
The FMCSA permits motor carriers to request changes to their safety ratings if they have adequately addressed the deficiencies that led to a “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” rating. An upgrade in the safety rating is not automatic.
Carriers must apply and furnish written evidence demonstrating the corrective actions taken and compliance with safety regulations.
The FMCSA generally responds within 45 days, and if it is ascertained that the necessary corrective actions have been taken, and the necessary safety standards met, your safety rating will be upgraded.
Step 3: Resorting to DataQs for Data Review:
This step is conditional. It is required only if you believe that the FMCSA data about your carrier is incomplete or incorrect.
This is because the DataQs system is an electronic medium through which you can file challenges to data maintained by the FMCSA in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).
The MCMIS database encompasses roadside inspection reports, DOT-recordable crash reports, and results of any investigations concerning the carrier.
To challenge the data, all one needs to create an account on the DataQs website and submit a challenge.
However, it is imperative that this step be taken only if you possess solid proof, as filing without evidence can lead to the FMCSA barring you from filing further.
Again, recovering from a DOT violation might seem like a long and daunting process, but it’s more than manageable with a methodical approach.
Following all of the steps outlined in our blog can help ensure that your business is back on track and compliant with DOT regulations.
For specialized guidance or assistance, don’t hesitate to call and consult our own DOT Safety Compliance experts!