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February 1, 2021 12:00 PM, EST

Is DOT Recordkeeping Your Achilles’ Heel?

Unlike most things in a fleet manager’s day, your records and recordkeeping practices are within your control. They are the foundation on which your compliance and risk management programs are built.

Good record (document) management is a business asset. And it’s critical whether you have 2 drivers or 200. Your records are a repository of corporate knowledge that makes your business more valuable. When appropriately managed, your records not only show who your drivers and employees are but also that:

  • Your drivers and employees are trained and qualified,
  • You’re paying your employees and taxes properly,
  • Your vehicles are maintained,
  • You comply with work limits and privacy laws,
  • You keep your employees safe, and
  • You’re fully insured and authorized to be in business.

 

Unique Recordkeeping Scenarios

Like most motor carriers, you probably have a mix of job classifications that are subject to various recordkeeping laws and regulations. You may even have a combination of drivers who work and are paid in different ways — from full- and part-time to seasonal, contractual, managerial, or even family members who occasionally get behind the wheel.

On top of that, you have to manage the variety of vehicles you operate with their diverse registration, permitting, licensing, maintenance, and insurance requirements.

Consequently, you need to juggle multiple recordkeeping challenges relating to:

  • Payroll,
  • Hours of service,
  • Driver qualification,
  • Vehicle maintenance,
  • Accident/incident reporting,
  • Previous-employer inquiries,
  • Drug and alcohol testing,
  • Training, and a lot more.

You also face the dual challenge of ensuring confidentiality while providing access to the right persons (employees, auditors, attorneys) at the right time. Make one mistake, and you’ve opened yourself to serious risk and liability.

 

Choosing the Right Fleet Management System

The right kind of record management system can help classify your drivers and other employees based on what they do and then manage the records you’re required to have for each. An ideal system should:

  • Retain all records securely and electronically, making them immediately accessible — anywhere, anytime — only to those with appropriate access;
  • Allow you to designate job classifications and the state and federal recordkeeping requirements that apply to each — giving you, in effect, a custom checklist of all required records for each job;
  • Prompt you to complete all necessary records based on job classification;
  • Prompt you to renew expiring documents such as licenses or medical cards and to perform necessary filings;
  • Warn you of missing items or of the danger of discarding records too soon;
  • Compile needed records to provide to other employers, auditors, attorneys, and others; and
  • Purge records on a schedule of your choosing (rather than automatically) when their continued retention could become a liability.

An electronic records management system, like the Encompass® Platform, can keep you in compliance and ready for whatever tomorrow brings. It allows you to classify your employees, drivers, and vehicles correctly, complete and retain all required records for each, and maintain many other required business records on an ongoing basis.

Disorganized records could be your Achilles’ heel if you fail to keep the right documents for the proper length of time. Don’t let incomplete or missing records dash your hopes of success during litigation or a DOT, OSHA, DOL, or other government audit.

 

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J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. is the most respected name in safety and regulatory compliance. Since its beginning as a one-man consulting firm in 1953, the company has grown to over 1,500 associates serving more than 500,000 customers — including over 90% of the Fortune 1000® companies. The company’s subject-matter expertise spans nearly 1,500 topics, and its diverse solutions include ELogs and mobile technology; training via online courses, streaming video or DVD; online management tools; managed services; consulting services; online and print publications; forms and supplies.  www.jjkeller.com

 

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