As is the case with many other things in life, there are rules that apply to the trucking industry. When it comes to trucking-related operations and compliance, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the main regulating body, although there are some other requirements to keep in mind as well. Below, we go over what you’ll need to do to stay in compliance so you can enjoy the many benefits of running a trucking-related business. Compliance related to the trucking industry can be broken down into three main categories:
One of the top ways to stay in compliance industry-wise is to provide proof of adherence to hours of service (HOS) guidelines. Staying in compliance with HOS requires bills of lading, itineraries, trip records, schedules, and other documents showing proof of origin and destination for each trip coupled with expense receipts for non-driving time expenses. Trucking businesses are now required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to keep track of driver-related stats.
Driver vehicle inspection records (DVIRs) also need to be completed daily by commercial truck drivers. DVIRs include inspection results specific to brakes, lights, tires, and any vehicle defects or issues. Industry compliance requirements also include the International Registration Plan (IRP). This applies to license fees and how they are collected. Whether or not this saves you money will depend on how many different jurisdictions you typically drive through. Owner-operators are also required to register at a DOT Consortium for drug and alcohol testing.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires any commercial trucking business to maintain a driver qualification file (DQF). For owner-operators, this information applies to the past three years. Driver-related compliance documentation includes:
*A note confirming the ME is on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners List must also be included.
+MVR records must be run through the state database once a year.
If there are any endorsements on your commercial driver’s license, your DQF must also include background checks and proof of any additional insurance requirements for such things as hauling hazardous cargo. Also, new drivers operating a commercial vehicle must fill out a 7-day log, or record of hours. Additionally, keep any training documentation in DQFs along with relevant medical paperwork, payroll forms, accident reports, results from drug and alcohol testing, and maintenance logs.
Tax-wise, there are some important steps you’ll need to take to stay in compliance. This list includes filing your quarterly International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) tax returns – for vehicle fuel consumed via a single tax license – and multi-year renewals for CDLs. Also, avoid significant penalties by staying compliant with your state’s business-related reporting requirements.
Lastly, remember “compliance” is just part of the larger safety puzzle in the trucking industry. There are a whole lot of things you need to think about and cover to stay in compliance. You’ll still want to be honest about how alert you are before you get behind the wheel if you’re an owner-operator; or diligent about tracking how your drivers are performing and managing their hours if you have employees.
Thank you for joining us as we cover the 7 Steps to Starting Your Trucking Business, we do hope that this has been informative and helpful for you. In case you missed our previous post, it was about how to find loads and grow your business. We have also put together a list of useful resources for all truckers and will be releasing it soon via a new Resources page on our site. Please do come back, check it out and let us know if we have missed anything out!