How to avoid triggering an audit.
There are a number of ways an audit can be triggered, including randomly. Random audits are not as common because there are so many ways audits can be triggered; there is not a big need for random ones.
A major cause for an audit is if the carrier is involved in a severe collision that includes personal injury or death. The vehicle or the driver may be in question regarding the driver’s fitness (not being over permissible hours allowed to drive), the vehicle not being in road-worthy condition, poor driver or vehicle operating practices, or a combination of infractions.
Audits can incur fines and even suspensions of the carrier’s National Safety Code Certificate. If this happens the carrier is out of business for whatever length of time is imposed. Sometimes certain functions can be suspended, such as the ability to inspect the company vehicles. This requires all vehicles being sent to a third party for inspections which can be expensive and inconvenient for the drivers and ultimately for the carrier company.
The important message here is to not trigger an audit. It sounds simple and it is. Some ways to do this include:
- Stay healthy by keeping the fleet of vehicles and the staff of drivers current and up-to-date through company-wide regulation enforcement.
- Have a compliance officer who maintains driver performance through driver record audits and even assessing the drivers conducting pre-trip inspections regularly to ensure that the drivers are correctly and fully completing the pre-trip inspections.
- Monitor hours drivers work and drive to ensure compliance and that drivers are recording the hours properly. This includes taking the necessary time off to either reset the drivers’ time and to prevent the driver from working beyond the hours in a cycle, eliminating the need for an Hours of Service reset by the driver.
- Monitor the vehicles and their maintenance.
- Monitor the frequency of the mandatory motor vehicle inspections and general maintenance of the vehicles.Is there a good system for the driver to report vehicle defects and required vehicle repairs? And will the driver know if the defects, repairs, and mandatory inspections have been completed and on-time?
- Monitor the National Safety Code Carrier Profile on a bi-weekly basis to ensure that any outstanding traffic violations, notices, orders, roadside inspections, and all other paperwork associated is being properly reported within the fifteen (15) days as required by law.
- Look for vehicles that may be using the company’s National Safety Code number which are not part of your fleet. These vehicles must be removed immediately as any tickets or violations will incur demerit points on the company’s National Safety Code Carrier Profile. Enough demerit points could trigger an audit.
As listed above, carriers and their compliance officers are capable of several functions which can stave off triggered audits. Know the regulations and make sure that there is someone in charge who can effectively manage compliance for your company. Be prepared for random audits by keeping your files and Profile organized and up-to-date.
For more information about the National Safety Code and course, registration visit the BC Trucking Association.