Why Am I Being Audited? Explanation

Inspection

Why am I being audited?

For the owner of a trucking company or the Safety Compliance officer this does not come as a big surprise. For the driver however, it’s totally normal for him or her to be the last to know.

In reality though, it is the driver that has brought us to this audit state we are now in.

There are two divisions of a company that will not get along until it is almost too late for a company to stay in business, and that is Dispatch and the Safety Compliance Department. If it is a small company and there is no compliance department, it will be the owner of the company that will start the audit process to happen.

Dispatch will get their requirements from the customer as to when and where to deliver the load and it will be dispatch that will give this information to the driver. If there is an issue with the truck to pick up the load on time and deliver it on time, the driver is given this information and told to make it happen.  The driver is not asked if he has enough log hours to make this trip, there is no record kept by dispatch as to how many hours this driver has worked so far in his cycle and he is told to “get it there on time.”

Here are another couple of phrases you may recognize. “Turn and burn,” this is used when a return load for this driver is waiting for him upon his delivery arrival. “Push” is used when a driver is slowing down due to being tired or if he had a breakdown and is falling behind in the arrival time. It has been my experience to learn that there is no difference between delivering a load of bananas or a load of rusty nails, both are equally time sensitive.

So what happens when a driver says to his dispatcher that he does not have enough log hours to legally get to destination in the required time? Depending on the dispatcher and the company standards we would like to think that the driver is allowed to rest but we are in an audit state here and the driver will be pushed. It is not always dispatch that is at fault, sometimes a driver will push himself to get the extra miles and a higher pay check. Legally though, it is up to the company to keep track of the driver’s hours of operation. Drivers will also push hard to get home from a long trip, drive longer than legally allowed and even though very tired and sleepy, will continue driving.

There are many other scenarios that will play out for the driver on the road.

  1. Driving erratically in the city or highway, come too close to a car when passing or changing lanes, the driver of the car calls the police and reports the truck, time of incident and license plate. This call is recorded and sent on to the Department of Transportation.
  2. The driver is caught speeding, he is fined and a report is filed and recorded.
  3. He is found to be over legal weight at a scale, or during an inspection he is found to have some issues with his equipment. This is filed and recorded.
  4. The driver can be stopped anywhere by a peace officer and have his log book inspected, if he was found to be in violation in the last 14 days, he may be fined but the incident will be filed and recorded.
  5. In the case of an accident, it is investigated and fines may be issued and the report filed and recorded.

All of these incidents and more are all recorded and some violations are issued points against the trucking company by the National Safety Committee.

As time goes on, more violations are discovered and more points are issued to the trucking company until a limit is reached and the first action against the carrier is taken in the form of a warning letter.

The letter says something like, hey, your drivers are making mistakes and are not in compliance. Clean up your act or there will be consequences.

This letter is just about always ignored.

If the safety performance of the trucking company continues to decline the company is advised to complete a self assessment of their Safety Plan. The company will receive a letter recommending that they review their current safety plan or develop a safety plan, if it is not already in place.

Do you have a safety plan?

NSC Quantifiable Audit

The third type of contact is an audit. There are several ways you may be selected for an audit:

  • random selection
  • poor safety record
  • complaint
  • accident
  • CVSA roadside inspection

This is the point in time where a trucking company must wake up and make the changes necessary in becoming compliant. Unfortunately most do not, they ignore the requests of the National Safety Committee and wind up heading for their audit.

If the trucking company has a safety compliance officer, this is the time where he knocks on the owner’s office door and announces that their company is going to get audited.

Strangely enough, even at this point, the audit is not taken very seriously and the company fails the audit.

I have met some very good safety compliance officers in my trucking background and as I said in the beginning, the two departments do not get along. You have dispatch or the owner, responsible in covering the loads they have and making sure that the customer is satisfied with the carrier’s performance, and you have the safety guy telling Dispatch, hey, this driver has a problem with his truck and he can’t take this load. The way an owner looks at it is, I have one department working hard to make me money while the other department is trying to force me to shut down.

The auditor will now let the owner of the trucking company  know what his options are and if he will get another chance to improve before the next audit in about 6 months time.