Daren Hansen, Sr. Editor - Transportation Safety
July 15, 2021
Owner-operators often need to wear many hats, including driver, mechanic, dispatcher, and safety director. When it comes to DOT compliance, “recordkeeper” is another vital role.
If you’re an owner-operator working under your own authority, you are both employer (motor carrier) and employee (driver) and you must comply with the many documentation requirements that come with each role. Failure could lead to fines and other serious penalties.
If you’re your own boss, avoid these common recordkeeping violations:
If you don’t have the required records, you may want to enlist help to create and manage them — before you’re audited.
One key to compliance is knowing who the motor carrier is for every job you take. If you lease on to another motor carrier and operate under their DOT number, that company is responsible for keeping your records and proving that you’re in compliance, the same as if you were their employee.
In practical terms, this means they need to have a DQ file for you and enroll you in their DOT testing program, as well as having copies of your inspection and maintenance records, your Clearinghouse report, your hours-of-service records, and other compliance documents.
If you’re an owner-operator, don’t let recordkeeping mistakes sink your business. Always keep track of who’s responsible for maintaining your compliance paperwork. When it’s you, make sure your recordkeeping system is up to task, or seek help if you get in over your head.
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