- Business and Employment
Review a Commercial Trucking Company DOT Safety Record
What is their safety record?
If you are in business you want your products delivered intact and on-time direct to your customer's loading dock. You want a commercial trucking company that is reliable and safe. This article will describe the simple steps needed to check the Department of Transportation (DOT) SAFER website to determine the safety record of your prospective common carrier.
- SAFER Web - Company Snapshot
Review the safety record of DOT registered commercial trucking companies.
Log on to SAFER
on to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) SAFER website.
The link is provided in the adjacent box. The link takes you to the SAFER Company Snapshot page. Click on "USDOT Number", then enter the number in the "Enter Value" box. This is the fastest way to bring up the company profile.
If you don't know the DOT number click on "Name" and enter the company name in the "Enter Value" box. Just be aware there are probably a dozen or more trucking companies that share a similar name. You will need to know the city and state where the trucking company headquarters is located to select the company you are trying to review. For example, if you type in "Smith Trucking" the SAFER system will bring up several dozen names. Do you want Paul Smith Trucking in Tatum, Texas, or A.D. Smith Trucking in Corinna, Maine? Click on the company name you want to review. The SAFER system will bring up the "snapshot" of the company you selected.
Safety Inspection Record
Scroll down and review the second screen for the trucking company's safety inspection record. This lists the number of roadside inspections conducted within the past two years on the company's trucks and drivers. These inspections are conducted at random, typically by the state highway patrol, and involve vehicle, driver, and hazmat inspections.
Driver inspections involve a review of the driver's logbook to ensure it is
current and the driver is in compliance with DOT hours of operation
Vehicle inspections focus on truck maintenance and safety.
Hazmat inspections are conducted only if the trucking company hauls hazardous materials. Inspectors check to see that hazardous materials are being transported according to DOT regulations.
"Out of Service" Violations
The first line in this screen indicates the number of inspections conducted in each category. The second line indicates the number of "Out of Service" violations that were detected. Out of service means there was at least one item noted during the inspection that did not comply with DOT regulations. This could be a error in the driver's logbook, or an indication that he worked more hours than permitted in a specific time frame, which is a safety hazard. A vehicle "out of service" violation could be a broken taillight, worn tires, or some other item in need of repair that could affect the safety of the vehicle. The out of service status can reflect one or more violations found in a single inspection.
The next line indicates the percentage of Out of Service violations found compared with the total number of inspections conducted on the trucking company. Obviously, the lower the number the better; a low number indicates the company is probably serious about following DOT regulations. You can compare the individual trucking company's out of service percentages with the National Averages shown in the last line of this screen. Be wary of any company that has higher percentages than the national average.
Scroll down and review the next screen which indicates the number of crashes the company has been involved with in the past 24 months.
Carrier Safety Rating
Scroll down and review the last screen, which indicates the Carrier Safety Rating. This is a measure of the trucking company's compliance with FMC safety regulations based on a DOT review of the carrier's operations. There are two types of general reviews. A Safety Review investigates management's overall knowledge of FMC safety regulations. A Compliance Review (abbreviated as CR on this screen) involves a review of the carrier's records. There are also miscellaneous reviews, such as security contract reviews or hazardous material compliance reviews that may be performed. The box next to "Type" indicates the types of reviews that have been conducted.
Review the carrier's rating. "Satisfactory" indicates there was no evidence of substantial non-compliance with safety regulations. "Conditional" indicates the carrier was out of compliance with one or more safety regulations and is on notice to correct the problems. "Unsatisfactory" indicates substantial non-compliance with safety regulations.
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The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-make
- U.S. Department of Transportation
The DOT website contains information on trucking safety and regulations.
Are They Insured?
Last, click on "FMCSA Licensing & Insurance site" at the bottom of the page. This will bring up a screen that lets you review the trucking company's current insurance coverage. Click on "Report" to do this. Scroll down to the "Active/Pending Insurance" box and check to see there is an initial effective date for insurance coverage. Next to the effective date is a line that says "Cancellation Date". This should be blank, meaning the insurance remains in effect. If there is a cancellation date you had better investigate. The trucking company may be operating without insurance.