It’s Worth the Investment

How Trucking Companies Can Be Proactive with Compliance Issues

In some ways, enhancements in technology have changed how trucking companies approach compliance.

“Ten or fifteen years ago, compliance was a mystery. Nobody knew what it was or understood it,” said Brian Stout, president of Transportation Compliance Services, a provider of custom DOT compliance and risk management consulting services.

Today, everyone knows countless rules and regulations exist; now the mystery is about how to execute a proactive, comprehensive compliance strategy. In an era where everything is online, both regulators and the public have higher expectations for compliance within the trucking industry. The question is: how does the industry get there?

“Every trucking company is different, so there is no “one size fits all” answer, investing in compliance really pays off in the long-term” said Stout. “Some companies have the manpower and resources to develop and execute great compliance plans in-house, some need help. Particularly for smaller carriers, the private consultant industry can be the most cost-effective approach.”

“In my view, safety has to be at the top of the list and I think LMTA can do a lot more to serve as a resource to our member companies on compliance issues,” said LMTA Executive Director Chance McNeely. “I intend to have LMTA be part of the compliance solution for trucking companies, that includes connecting you with the right experts and it should also include more tangible services that we must develop internally over time.”

Lenny Thompson, who serves as the regional manager for Transportation Compliance Services, said “our industry exists to help trucking companies achieve the long-term rewards of investing in compliance, and technology allows us to be efficient in how we do it.”

Drug and alcohol testing and the compliance issues surrounding that are this industry’s “bread and butter”, Thompson said. That includes pre-employment screens, along with a system for random testing and examinations done after an accident or in cases of reasonable suspicion of abuse.
“Qualifying a driver, making sure they are in good standing, and checking their history is extremely important,” he said. If a driver gets in an accident and it turns out their qualifying was not done properly, it can cause major legal headaches for a carrier.

Trucking companies are also required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to have a robust and systematic vehicle maintenance program. It’s important to properly document repairs on vehicles that are found to be in violation during roadside inspections, especially those that are placed out of service. Thompson said regular maintenance, such as fluid changes, needs to also be properly documented.

McNeely said compliance consultants work hand in hand with trucking companies to make sure they are following rules and have proper systems in place. He said these consultants also help inform the trucking industry’s efforts to reform federal regulations, which is necessary on a seemingly routine basis.

Regulators don’t always get it exactly right and neither do trucking companies. Regardless, the trucking companies that make the investment in safety tend to have safer trucks and drivers on the road. “Most trucking companies that I have come across in my career are concerned about safety on the road but they can also feel overwhelmed about where to start, and that’s where my industry can help,” said Thompson.
In an era where insurance premiums go up annually, even without claims, an investment in compliance will generally make your operation safer and help to reduce claims.  “It’s good for your drivers, the traveling public, and your bottom line,” said Stout.