DOT Compliance, Data Programs, and Audit Prep


By Reza Hemmati

In the first part of this series about the steps commercial transportation fleets can take now to ensure post-COVID success, we discussed the vital role of fuel cards to control costs and understand driving trends, scheduling preventive maintenance based on mileage and vehicle health, and embracing safety measures that focus on the driver. As businesses evaluate 2020 to prep for 2021, we continue to challenge ourselves to make an even stronger comeback as the pandemic continues.

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It’s imperative to confirm all employees are correctly licensed, have proper medical certificates, and are following HOS and off-duty regulations. However, with government agencies shut down or working limited hours due to COVID, it’s been a challenge for drivers and fleets to stay current with expiring documentation.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has remained flexible during this time, issuing waivers to extend expiration dates of commercial driver licenses (CDLs) and medical examiner certificates. In doing this, DOT has granted drivers extra time to update necessary documentation before applying penalties.

Hours of Service (HOS) regulation changes during the pandemic may have impacted driver productivity. At the start of the pandemic, the number of hours drivers could operate before taking a break was increased, knowing that supplies needed to get to final destinations quickly. More hours on the road equate to additional potential productivity for fleets operating in this challenging economic environment. However, increased hours of service are likely temporary, and drivers need to be aware of potential shifts in government regulations, while fleets must ensure their ELD provider keeps up with any changes.

Another evolving regulation is the sleeper berth rule, which allows more opportunities to split drivers’ 10 hours of off-duty time. Even though most drivers have stopped using the sleeper berth split rules, I believe more drivers will start taking advantage of it, due to its flexibility and how easy it is to understand.

Companies need to think about how evolving regulations will impact drivers so they can amend policies and implement driver training based on changing requirements and business needs. Planning ahead to balance safety, productivity, and efficiency is key. Rather than becoming complacent as a result of current relaxed enforcement, it’s imperative that companies remain current with documentation and up to date with the latest policy changes.


With the abundance of data available from onboard and back-end systems, fleets can sometimes be overwhelmed with how best to gather, assess, and apply it to improve business outcomes. A myriad of opportunities exist for fleets to improve performance across a variety of measures if data is collected, curated, and analyzed appropriately.

For instance, fleets can leverage the structured, predictive, and consistent data sets coming off ELD devices to build models that can predict preventable accidents, who’s going to quit, and which drivers are likely to be most productive. Knowing each company has different operating parameters and practices, it’s important to determine which data sets are most essential to make your business successful, profitable, and safe. Having a strong telematics partner can help lighten the burden on internal resources.

A strong and impactful data program requires clear communication with your drivers about what information is captured, how it is analyzed, and the benefits to drivers. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, drivers that have been driving for 20 years don’t need the same type—and frequency—of training as drivers just starting their career. One of the reasons we’ve seen drivers quit is because they receive too much redundant or unnecessary training. While that might sound counterintuitive, if training is too repetitive, and frankly boring, experienced drivers may look for opportunities elsewhere.

Keep in mind that the most efficient data programs are flexible. Successful programs adapt to changing variables—mileage, road conditions, global pandemics—to make sure insights and training remain relevant across all aspects of the driver’s challenging job.


The DOT has typically completed on-site fleet audits, providing a couple of days’ notice for what they will review. Today, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration and its state law enforcement partners have implemented a new training program in order to have off-site or remote audits.

Remote audits generally cause less disruption to fleet operations, are more cost-effective for the government, and are more efficient and help ensure the health and safety of personnel by allowing for adherence with social distancing measures. We can expect these off-site audits to continue even post COVID-19, so it is important for businesses to adjust audit processes and planning now.

While future implications of the pandemic on business operations are unclear, we encourage fleet operators to continue to adapt to ensure profitability, efficiency, and safety throughout the pandemic and beyond. Ensuring your business stays current and adapts with evolving HOS regulations and off-duty requirements, revising and leveraging a strong data program, and understanding and preparing for the new off-site audit process will help fleets succeed during and post COVID.


Reza Hemmati is the vice president of product management at Spireon. For more insights on what steps your company can take to succeed post COVID, watch Spireon’s webinar, “Top 10 Steps Fleets Can Take Now to Succeed Post-COVID.” Find out more, visit

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