During my career as an OTR Truck Driver, I have visited the DOT Scale House on more than one occasion. The DOT Enforcement officer usually takes your information, including CDL, medical card, truck and trailer registration, insurance cards and any number of other official documents to make sure you are legal for the road you are traveling. Through all of the inspections, paperwork checks and other official DOT functions, I’ve often wondered what type of information is entered into the DOT computer and why that information is important to future visits to the DOT Inspection Facility.
I asked this question to a DOT Officer recently and he told me that certain states, DOT offices are linked to the FMCSA computer and a score is given to each trucking company based on several factors such as number of vehicle and driver inspections, number of vehicle and driver inspections failed, number of hazmat inspections, number of hazmat inspections failed, number of accidents, number of fatalities, number of traffic violations, number of vehicles towed and number of drivers in the fleet. Certainly these aren’t the only factors used in the computation of the safety score, it is a very complicated process, but they are the most common factors. DOT even has a formula to estimate the probability that a truck or driver will not pass a safety inspection, hence the probability of your truck being pulled into an inspection facility. This seems all well and good for the safety of our highways, but what if you are on a dedicated route that brings you past the same inspection facility? Too bad, the system will only “see” the DOT number entered by the DOT Officer into his or her computer and flag you to be stopped. My personal record is being pulled in to an inspection facility is 5 times in a 4 week period. Some drivers will tell you that you can only be pulled in once every 30 days, this isn’t true! If your company has a poor safety record, your truck can be pulled in to an inspection facility on a daily basis.
If you have a computer and internet access, check out the “SaferSys.org” website and check out the safety score of your company. You can enter the MC#, ICC# or company name to search for your company. Be sure to find the city and state your company is based in to get accurate results. You would be amazed at the number of companies that are named the same across the US. This search will also provide results of the inner workings of a company and their safety records. This information is “Public Knowledge” and anyone can look up a company using this site. More and more trucking companies are using consumer credit reports to get information about prospective drivers, so why shouldn’t you get information about your own company or a company you plan to work for. It may save you a lot of agony and money in the long run! Be Safe!