So, who is DOT Compliance Help, Inc.? Any time I am introduced to a new company, I want to know:
- Where did they come from?
- What do they do?
- Who are the key people?
- In the next few pages, I hope to answer most of these questions
- I want to help you know who we are
As many business managers have learned, DOT regulations are not just for trucking companies. If you are in ANY type business, including, but not limited to: construction, manufacturing, importing, distribution, etc., and you need a 10,000-lb-plus truck for any business chores, chances are the DOT regulations apply to you.
The way the agency puts it this way: “The rules. . . are applicable to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that transport property or passengers in interstate commerce.”
To fully understand this we have to look at the definition of CMVs and the definition of interstate commerce.
Commercial Motor Vehicle: “self-propelled or towed vehicle used on public highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when:
1) The vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds; or
2) The vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver; or
3) The vehicle is used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding. . .”
Interstate commerce: “trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States—
(1) Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States);
(2) Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
(3) Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.”
But if you are, let’s say, a company specializing in the manufacture of beer, cupcakes, dogfood, greeting cards, frozen pizzas, bicycles, ball bearings, sporting goods, toy tanks, toy trucks or toy airplanes, and you have one or two trucks that are used to bring raw materials or take finished goods to UPS for shipping, you are going to hire people that know how to make these things, and not people that have been educated in the FMCSA safety regulations that apply to the operations of CMVs.
Sooner or later, someone in top management says to some newly-hired member of the management team, “Here, read up on this DOT stuff and let’s make sure we do this right, so we don’t get in trouble with that agency” or some words to that effect.
Here is where DOT Compliance Help Inc. brings value to the transaction: If you just appointed someone, or if you are the unhappy patsy that just got appointed, in order to become the subject matter expert on what no one really wants to know about (DOT Compliance), you have several choices to get up to speed: One, You could try to read the regulation; (I’ll give you a shortcut, but I don’t recommend this technique: www.fmcsa.dot.gov).
Two, you could read a book; (I’ll give you a shortcut for that too, but I also don’t recommend this technique: www.labelmaster.com – FMCSR).
Or, third, and my recommendation, is: Go to a 4-day seminar and get some training from an expert. I’ve both run a business and I’ve worked for the agency, and I’ve been a consultant for 10 years now.
I’ll help you understand, first of all, how the FMCSA, DOT, federal and state motor carrier safety regulations can impact your business, and give you some pointers how to avoid the most-unpleasant interactions. (The FMCSA calls these “Interventions”), as well as those pesky roadside inspection violations.
In 1988, I left a short career as a newspaper reporter, and took a job as a junior member of a company that dispatched CMVs, and when the topic of DOT Regulations came up, I was the one that drew the short straw, and had to get up to speed really quickly as we were already up and running, following some rules and unwittingly breaking others.
From 1988 through 2005, I held various management positions including safety manager, office manager, owner, and general manager of a motor carrier (Company operating a fleet of CMVs) and transportation manager for a distribution company. During this time I also was a commissioned officer in the Army reserves / National Guard (I actually changed from AR to ARNG and back to AR), being activated twice. I moved from Missouri to Ohio, then Colorado and finally to northern Illinois, where I live now with my wife and three misfit dogs.
As a military officer, I got some training and experience leading soldiers, organizing deployments, constructing roads, bridges and buildings, and had a lot of interesting experiences, most of which were enjoyable and all of which helped me become the person I am today. While my responsibilities ranged from operating a field hospital, a cavalry unit (think tanks that move back and forth in the area between US Forces, our allies and the enemy), and several types of military engineering, safety was always an important part of my job and on one occasion it was my primary responsibility. I retired from the reserves in 2007, after a total of 28 years.
In 2005, I took a position with the FMCSA as a field auditor, leaving in January 2007 due to extensive travel and changing work conditions. While working with the FMCSA, I encountered a handful of “Safety consultants” and I was unimpressed with their knowledge or their helpfulness. I considered getting another job in fleet management, but thought I would try something different first: What if I could become a consultant and help several motor carriers with their fleet operations? This idea led to the creation of DOT Compliance Help, Inc. We were incorporated in August 2007, but I cashed the first check that was written to me as a consultant in March 2007.
Here is what I thought I was going to be doing: I thought I would be, more or less, the head of the safety department for 6 or 8 trucking companies, (hopefully close to home), with the administrative effort done by others. Instead, we learned that a lot of people just wanted me to come in and show them what is supposed to be done in a few days. The first 8 or 10 of these companies put people in the top safety management position that didn’t know anything about the DOT regulations, and I told each of them they need to go to a seminar to learn about the DOT regs. All these people called and emailed me repeatedly for weeks, telling me they could not find a seminar to attend.
Soon, we put together a training event; initially there were 4 sessions: Two for management and two for drivers. Over the last 10 years, that has grown into the 4-day seminar we have. It’s not done; I’m never satisfied with it. When we first started, we (my wife and I) read a book called ‘consulting for dummies’ or something like that. We don’t do everything exactly the way the author suggested, but there is one thing: “Update your charts”. I do that constantly.
I enjoy speaking with small groups, because I like helping people. When they first file in I see fear in their eyes, as they are completely afraid the DOT will just walk in one day and find something they do not like about the business, and shut it down or levy huge fines or worse. After the first day, and increasingly as they come to understand the way to learn and apply the FMCSRs, I see the fear melt away, and when the seminar is completed, I see people walking away with some confidence they can develop and implement a world-class safety management system back at their company. Or, at least, keep their co-workers out of trouble with the DOT.
Sometimes attending a seminar is not enough; sometimes it is helpful to have us come in and help with the driver qualification process, the drug & alcohol testing process, or other aspects of managing a fleet. I try to avoid non-FMCSA questions, but ultimately, I get a few (like: how or whether to incorporate, or what computer systems to use, or how to communicate with drivers, or where to get good loads.)
So if you are the new guy and someone just “threw the book at you” (made you responsible for your company’s DOT Compliance efforts), take a look at our seminar schedule.
Chances are, we have a seminar soon that fits your schedule.
If you would like us to train more than 4 – 5 members of your management staff, it might be more economical for us to come to you with a customized presentation.
If you can’t get away for 4 days initially, maybe you want to attend a 2-day seminar, or day 1 and 2 of a 4-day event. But, after a couple months, we hope you find time for the last half, so you will understand the big picture.
If you have more than a few trucks and there is a big mess (Like no driver files, no records of duty status, that sort of thing) we can help you get a system up and running.
Thanks for taking a minute to read up on DOT Compliance Help Inc.
We look forward to helping you as you improve your knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and what they mean for you and your business.
DOT Compliance Help, Inc.
Mike England, President and Senior Safety Consultant