For an owner-operator getting into business as a motor with operating authority, buttoning up the business with written policy frameworks and good record-keeping will be key to staying in operation with hiccups at some point within the first couple years in business. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's policy is to audit most new entrants within the carrier’s first 18 months of business. By some accounts, that's aspirational, but you can be sure that it's only a matter of time before auditors get to you.
It’s critical you put into place evidence of your attention to compliance and safety management.
Critical areas of focus for new entrant audits include driver qualifications, logs/ELD records, maintenance programs, a filed and up-to-date accident register and written drug and alcohol policies and procedures.
Any of the following violations canresult in an automatic failure of the audit:
- Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
- Driving or using a driver with an alcohol content of 0.04 or greater.
- Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled-substances test.
- Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
- Driving or using a driver without a CDL.
- Driving or using a driver with a suspended, revoked or canceled license or a federal disqualification.
- Allowing a disqualified driver to drive.
- Not carrying appropriate insurance.
- Knowingly using a physically unqualified driver.
- Failing to require a driver to keep record of duty status current.
- Running a vehicle declared out of service before repairs are made.
- Failing to correct out-of-service defects listed on vehicle inspection reports before further operation.
- Running a truck not inspected periodically.