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Document And Record Keeping

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

The FMCSA and DOT set specific requirements for freight carriers or trucking companies to go about their operation. Among these particular requirements are Record Keeping and Documentation. Failure to comply with this would lead to penalties and fines imposed on the company or drivers involved. Therefore company owners and affiliated drivers are expected to follow these requirements and keep up with updates.


For a trucking company to prove that it is following FMCSA Compliance, its documents and records must be backed up and up to date. Documents and records are not only kept for FMCSA Compliance purposes, but they are also essential to running a successful business. For example, accurate fleet and expense records are needed to track income and any costs incurred during operation.


Here is a list of these documents and records:

  • Fleet Records: It is the responsibility of the transport company to maintain dispatch and trip records. These are supporting documents and must be retained by the carrier for no less than six months. This contains information about the cargo, information about the shipper and the receiver, carrier assets involved for that freight such as Vehicle, Driver, Dispatchers, and any affiliated partners like Brokers, BOL (Bill of Lading), which acts as a receipt for proof of delivery for the freight service, and miscellaneous expenses.

  • Carrier Asset Records: Detail records and supporting documents of Vehicle, driver, dispatcher, carrier, contacts, and other companies’ assets.

  • Driver Expense & Receipts: Carriers must maintain records of all costs drivers incur during their on-duty and off-duty periods. The driver must collect all receipts and turn them into the carrier, which keeps them for a minimum of 6 months.

  • Payroll & Paycheck Records: As an employer, it’s vital that a transportation company, or carrier, maintains accurate records of all payments made to drivers. It is also a significant business transaction for tax purposes by the end of the year.

  • Driver Qualification and Performance Records: These records show that the driver is healthy, safe, and qualified to operate a commercial vehicle. It applies to both carrier drivers, owner-operators, or any other types of drivers working under the carrier.

  • Drug and Alcohol Test Records: It is pivotal that these tests be periodically carried out for the safety of drivers and vehicles. And records of all drug and alcohol tests performed on drivers must be maintained and secured away from regular personnel files. In some cases, these records must be retained for up to 5 years.

  • Vehicle Maintenance & Inspection Records: Motor carriers must maintain vehicle maintenance records for any vehicle under their direct control for 30 days or more. This ensures that the maintenance and repair schedule is adequately maintained and provides authorities with vital information in case of an accident or another incident.

  • HOS (Hours of Service) Logs and RODS(drivers’ records of duty status): trucking companies' job is to track how long a driver can operate. This is best to prevent fatigue and accidents. Since the FMCSA limits the amount of driving time, it is the company's responsibility to keep an accurate record and documents, which in some cases, held for up to six months.


Some operations might still put the carrier in non-compliance with FMCSA and DOT. This is possible even with accurate data or proof of receipt. For example, a DOT road inspection, even with evidence of a recent maintenance record, a DOT road inspection could put a driver or vehicle out of service and also incur a penalty which could be a stressful day for the carrier. Therefore a legit and up-to-date proof of receipt is needed.


Need For An Automated System To Handle Record Keeping


Records and documents keeping are the backbone of any company. However, since carriers in the transportation industry are at the top of most regulated, it is even more important to stay away from being under the radar of FMCSA. And with the nature of day-to-day processes involved, e.g., fleet records, receipts, preventive maintenance schedules, periodic inspection, periodic tax, and GV filing, including IFTA & HUT tax, along with the significant amount of expenses like fuel and maintenance, makes compliance even harder.


Carrier companies have many moving pieces and partners, like ELD providers, Brokers, Insurance, Drivers, Fuel companies, Factoring, Shippers, Receivers, State and local transport regulators, Drivers, Vehicles, Dispatchers, Drug Test Providers, and the FMCSA. All these necessary components make it vital to have a carrier management system to put all of this data together to run the carrier business smoothly and save both the carrier's time and vitality. Here comes ZTrucking. ZTruckings’ carrier management software offers the following features in regards to record keeping and documentation:

  • Provide an easy, consistent record and document tagging process with a keyword searchability feature for easy retrieval.

  • Smart file tagging and organization to every carrier’s components, including vehicle, driver, dispatcher, expense, and fleet. Even with random contacts, carriers can attach files with extra information such as issued & expiration date, issued state, etc. This allows the carriers to search and retrieve any documents easily.

  • Identify and periodically update any FMCSA newly required records and documents. This will help carriers stay up-to-date with new FMCSA Compliance.

  • Easily identify missing, expiring, or expired documents of any assets documents and records, including FMCSA, required documents.

  • Records & Documents are hosted on the AWS cloud platform, making your documents secure and easily available. This offers great security for your records and backs them up daily to ensure your documents are never lost. By using this feature on ZTrucking, carriers are of easy-to-use computing, flexible, cost-effective operation, reliable and secure infrastructure, plus scalable and high-performing storage resources.

  • FMCSA formatted export functionality, which could easily be downloaded and sent to FMCSA for a new entrant or safety audit

  • An easy-to-consume dashboard and visualization data to stay on top of your carrier business and safety compliance make an executive decision.

  • Clean and Validated records of all assets and operational records

  • Integrated driver disciplinary record

  • Collect data on new hirings from the driver app with validating data and built-in signing capability. This removes the need for the paper-based collection of data such as employment / residential history, drug & alcohol test history, and other information required by FMCSA.


Conclusion


With ZTrucking’s carrier management software, carriers can streamline all carrier operations from a single location and stay in compliance with FMCSA regulations while running their day-to-day business smoothly.


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