As any fleet manager knows, operating a trucking company can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It is important to employ the best fleet-asset management practices in order to save money and streamline operations. There are a variety of ways to improve fleet-asset management, each with its own benefits. Here are some of the best, including how to use asset tracking solutions to control all operations under one roof.
Focus on Fuel Cost Savings
One of the most important ways to improve fleet-asset management is to save on fuel costs. By tracking fuel usage and optimizing routes, fleets can significantly reduce their fuel costs. This can save businesses a significant amount of money on a monthly basis.
Trim Maintenance Costs
Another way to save money on fleet-asset management is to trim maintenance costs. By tracking maintenance requirements and ensuring that vehicles are kept in good condition, fleets can save money in both the short and long term. This can help to stretch limited budgets and keep businesses running smoothly.
Streamline Workforce Management
Streamlining workforce management is an affective way to improve your process. By automating processes and automating workflows, fleets can reduce the time and effort required to manage vehicle operations. This can save businesses time and money on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
By optimizing routes, fleets can minimize the time spent traveling and reduce the amount of wear and tear on vehicles. This can save businesses money on fuel and maintenance costs over time. This also requires an overview of routes and efficiencies. An asset tracking solution should be able to help you analyze all of that data at a glance to make the decisions that will optimize them, saving you countless hours and expenses.
Automate Workflows Wherever Possible
Asset tracking solutions are far more advanced than ever before. By automating processes wherever possible, fleets can reduce the amount of time and effort required to manage their fleets. This can save businesses time and money on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Automate Your Fleet Management with Asset Tracking Solutions from Vehicle Licensing Consultants
By automating your fleet management processes with asset-tracking solutions from Vehicle Licensing Consultants, you can achieve significant savings on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We can help you to optimize routes, trim maintenance costs, and streamline workforce management. Contact us today to learn more about GWConnect and its features.
DOT Compliance, FMCSA
“One thing you may not be doing that can affect your DOT!”
Every year at renewal your insurance agency must file your new policies with the FMCSA and Motor Carrier Permit division. Failure to do this can result in your authority being revoked and your MCP to be inactive. Both permits are a foundational permit that can put your operations to a halt. Make sure you are communicating with your insurance agency to ensure they are filing your updated policies on time.
US DOT: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/insurance-filing-requirements (link to insurance requirements)
Motor Carrier Permit: Form MC-65 M. This form can also be filed online at https://www.mcinfo.org/MCInfo/login.
**Both Liability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation must be filed if your company falls under Workers’ Compensation requirement per CA Insurance regulations.
DOT Audit, FMCSA
A motor carrier’s DOT safety rating indicates whether a company has adequate and functioning safety management controls to meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety fitness standard based on the results of a compliance review (CR).
Safety Rating Levels
Safety rating are broken down into 3 basic levels and will be assigned to a carrier:
Satisfactory. Functioning and adequate safety management controls are in place to meet the safety fitness standard.
Conditional. Inadequate safety management controls are in place. You cannot ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard. You have deficient areas that FMCSA expects the carrier to resolve. However, you can continue to operate.
Unsatisfactory. Inadequate safety management controls are in place. You cannot ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard. Your safety program has too many deficiencies to allow your fleet to continue operating.
If your organization has never had a CR, your fleet will be unrated on the SAFER site.
Factors that Impact Ratings
The safety fitness standard is determined through the results of a CR. The areas of compliance for the standard are outlined in §385.5. They are based on previous audits and are updated monthly after reviewing accident data and violation status.
The key factors in ratings include:
- Hours of Service (HOS)
- Unsafe Driving
- Controlled Substances and Alcohol
- Driver Fitness
- Accident History
- Maintenance of Vehicles
- Hazardous Materials Compliance
Where Can I Find My DOT Safety Rating?
Your companies DOT safety rating is available to you — and the general public — at FMCSA’s SAFER website.
Since anyone can look at your safety record, a poor safety rating can affect your insurance rates and hurt your company’s reputation, hinder your driver recruiting efforts and result in a loss of customers.
To help avoid a less-than-favorable safety rating, you need to understand what the agency will examine during an audit.
How Can I Improve My Safety Rating?
If your company has received a conditional or unsatisfactory rating, you may request a rating change at any time. The FMCSA would expect to see a safety management plan to address the violations discovered during the CR. Based on the contents of the plan, the FMCSA may issue an improved safety rating.
Maintaining a solid DOT safety rating is critical to your reputation as a motor carrier and can save your company a lot of time and money!
VLC will be expanding our core features to include a safety tracking module to ensure good driver behavior and improve and encourage good CSA scores. Contact us to learn more.
DQMConnect™, Driver Qualification File Management, FMCSA
The FMCSA has been conducting offsite audits for over 3 years. Starting in 2019, they were largely focused on safety reviews. However, the number and types of offsite audits have been on the rise. The pandemic encouraged the transition while the ease and cost effectiveness of offsite audits are continuing the trend upward.
In 2020, nearly 5 times the number of offsite audits were conducted as compared with 2019. Last year, 2021 saw a rule change enabling the FMCSA to issue safety ratings after an offsite audit. More motor carriers are receiving a “conditional” safety rating than “satisfactory”, despite so many audits being done remotely. This is something the agency could never do before.
Given the trend of the past 3 years and the fact that offsite audits appear to be working, they will likely remain part of the agency’s approach for years to come.
Let’s examine the audit numbers for 2021.
6% increase in audits; 95% resulting in violations
30% increase in audits that uncovered severe violations
37% increase in audits with critical violations such as missing records
The rise in conditional safety ratings is an important consideration for any HR manager or Fleet Manager. Conditional safety ratings can have costly consequences, including lost customers, higher insurance rates, and increased liability in court.
The Transition to Offsite Audits
As we can see, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is relying more heavily on offsite audits. It is time for you to embrace a DQM File Management tool to help ensure your compliance and facilitate these offsite audits. DQMConnect has a truly unique approach to DQM File Management. You maintain control of your files and it presents you with your compliance status and prepares the necessary audit files right from the Dashboard. No waiting. No loss of control. The data is yours and is accessible 24×7. For you and for the auditor should you need it.
Let us show you why more carriers are moving to DQMConnect to stay in control, in compliance, and audit ready!
Driver Qualification File Management
Trucking and other commercial driving are tightly regulated by the government, and for good reason considering how large and potentially dangerous a loaded truck can be. Unfortunately, this means a lot of extra burdens on you and your drivers. Your DQFs need to be constantly kept up to date, and Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections could happen on the road at almost any time. Good DOT Driver Qualification File Management systems can help make these processes easier to navigate!
What are the most important aspects of DOT inspections to focus on, and how can DQF management software help? Let’s take a look.
The Six Levels of DOT Inspections
When a driver is on the road, they are potentially subject to official inspection at almost any time. These will most likely take place at designated locations, such as weigh stations but could also be randomly conducted on-road. In addition, they must be performed at least once every 12 months.
There are six “levels” of inspection, depending on what the DOT official is looking for and how it’s conducted.
This is the most common – and most thorough – DOT inspection, covering almost every area of a driver and their vehicle. Inspected elements include:
- The driver’s CDL
- Their full DQF, including medical records, Record of Duty status, and any alcohol or drug use reports
- The trailer and cargo securement systems
- A full vehicle inspection, including brakes, couplings, exhaust, frame, fuel systems, wipers, steering systems, suspension, and electrical system
- Tires, rims, and wheels
- All lighting, including headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, and internal lights
This is the full complete inspection, which will be conducted at least once a year.
Level 2 is the same as Level 1, except that it omits any items which would require the inspector to get underneath the vehicle. It still includes the full DQF inspection, as well as anything on the vehicle which can be accessed while standing.
Level 3 focuses solely on the driver and their DQF, without inspecting their vehicle. This is when you really want a good DOT Driver Qualification File management system, as part of your overall fleet management software package.
Level 4 is a spot check of one specific item or area of concern. These may be based on direct reports, or due to overall industry trends which the DOT has become concerned about. i.e., if it came out that numerous trucking companies were neglecting their emissions systems, DOT might target emissions for a specific focus.
Level 5 is exactly the same as Level 1, except that the driver is not present when the vehicle is being inspected. This would typically only be done if there were already substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
Level 6 specifically only applies to shipments of radioactive materials and includes specialized checks to ensure the materials are being handled safely, in accordance with regulations, such as proper shielding.
How To Properly Prepare for DOT Inspections
Your drivers should be prepared for a surprise inspection at any time. Even if they are rare, a single failed DOT inspection can cause a lot of trouble for you and your driver.
1 – Invest in DOT Driver Qualification File management systems
When DQFs were handled on paper, by hand, they were prone to error – and errors can be extremely costly! A good DQF management software solution automates most updates and changes to the DQF, as well as issuing alerts when key dates are coming up, such as license and registration renewals. This helps ensure your DQFs can always pass inspection.
2 – Keep up on vehicle maintenance
To borrow a cliche, keeping your vehicles well-maintained isn’t just a good idea – it’s the law. Well-maintained vehicles, tracked as part of a larger vehicle management system, lead to more efficient operations and less downtime due to breakdowns. This also guarantees your vehicles will be able to pass even a Level 1 inspection at any time, if needed.
3 – Coach your drivers on proper behavior
DOT inspections can be nerve-wracking, even for experienced drivers, and it’s easy for newer drivers to be overwhelmed. Be sure to coach your drivers on staying calm and professional at all times. In particular, they should never directly confront or argue with the inspector, even if they believe there’s a problem with the inspection itself. Any disputes should be handled by the company, via proper legal challenges.
Drivers who keep a cool head will have a much easier time getting through inspections without any unnecessary drama.
4 – Do your own inspections
There’s no need to wait for a spot inspection. It’s good practice to occasionally conduct an inspection of your driver and vehicle, according to the same guidelines the DOT follows. Much like a fire drill, this increases preparedness when the real thing happens.
VLC Is Here to Improve Your Fleet Management
Vehicle Licensing Consultants has decades of experience helping fleet operators navigate complex laws and bureaucracy, while staying on top of both their vehicles and their drivers. Our connected systems allow you to manage drivers, vehicles, and even your customers – combining all the data into an analytical system capable of providing deep insights into every aspect of your operation.
Be prepared for your next DOT inspection. Contact us to learn more, or ask for a free demo.