Running a business is tough. Even tougher? Staying compliant with state and federal regulations surrounding business vehicle and fleet operations that impact your company.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and many other federal regulatory entities issue regulations that fleet operators must follow. In addition to detailed federal regulations, organizations must also comply with an array of state regulations. These regulations add a layer of complexity that can make fleet compliance difficult, painful and costly.
Larger companies can afford to hire staff designated to managing fleet compliance. But as a small- to medium-sized business, you may not have this luxury. Often, the task of navigating and complying with regulations is left to an owner or an employee who doesn’t specialize in the regulatory field. And trying to keep up with regulatory changes and compliance on your own can be difficult.
To help you get a handle on business vehicle and fleet compliance, read on for four of the top categories of U.S. federal motor carrier regulations.
- Vehicle maintenance
A compliant fleet starts with safe, road-worthy vehicles that receive required maintenance at regular intervals. Complying with federal regulations around vehicles requires:
- Knowing and understanding the commercial motor vehicle groups.
- Ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained and regularly inspected.
- Adhering to federal motor vehicle safety standards that outline specific requirements, including those for brake systems, electronic stability control systems for light vehicles, lamps, restraints, tires, windows and windshield defrosting and defogging.
- Fleet driver hiring and drug testing
A key component of compliance is hiring the right drivers. You need to ensure that they’re both fit to do the job and have the proper training, licensing and certification. There are numerous federal regulations that apply to fleet drivers. Complying with federal regulations around drivers requires:
- Getting familiar with general driver qualifications and requirements, as well as driver medical requirements.
- Making sure that drivers sign a statement certifying that they have received a copy of the driver educational materials required by federal law.
- Knowing the rules for driver drug testing for controlled substances that must be conducted before employment, at random during employment, after an accident and before a return to duty.
- Getting a handle on the rules around driver testing for reasonable suspicion for alcohol use or use of controlled substances under specific circumstances.
- Understanding the reasons for disqualification of drivers, such as serious traffic violations while driving a commercial motor vehicle.
- Ensuring that your drivers are competent in the English language.
- Fleet driver licensing and certification
It’s crucial to make sure fleet drivers are properly licensed and certified. Complying with federal driver licensing and certification regulations requires:
- Following proper driver application and certification procedures.
- Ensuring that a driver has a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and knowing when a CDL is not necessary.
- Knowing what’s covered by specific types of CDL endorsements and CDL restrictions.
- Ensuring that you do not knowingly use a driver whose license has been suspended, revoked or cancelled.
- Conducting an annual inquiry and review of a driver’s driving record.
- Safety and reducing risks
Following safety and risk-reduction practices helps ensure the security of your drivers and the public, as well as the continued success and stability of your business. Complying with federal safety and risk reduction regulations requires:
- Providing proper training for supervisors.
- Complying with driver hours of service rules. Adhering to these regulations has proven to be a major challenge for many organizations.
- Complying with laws pertaining to texting and the use of additional accessories and equipment while driving.
- Learning about prohibitions on disciplining or discriminating against an operator who takes a break from driving due to illness or fatigue.
- Making sure schedules conform with speed limits.
- Implementing proper cargo loading and inspection practices.
- Gaining a thorough knowledge of hazardous materials rules and regulations.
Complying with federal regulations can be a grind. But use this overview of regulatory requirements as a reminder of some of the key federal standards your business must follow, and you’ll be better able to stay on top of it all. The time and effort you spend to ensure compliance is crucial to keep your business in the right lane on the highway to success.