A DOT Compliance Checklist for Brokers Seeking New Carrier Partners

Navigating the complexities of DOT compliance remains a crucial task for freight brokers and shippers in their pursuit of reliable motor carrier partners. According to Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) Carrier Selection Framework Chairwoman Alicia Bly, “There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a fraud apocalypse in the supply chain, and the criminals and bad actors are getting more creative with their tactics and strategies to take advantage of the hard-working brokers and carriers in the marketplace.” However, the TIA Framework itself further emphasizes that the material isn’t meant to be a comprehensive checklist, and it’s up to each company to decide which parts to include or remove from their DOT vetting procedures.

These processes, integral to mitigating legal risks associated with negligent carrier selection, demand thorough understanding and adherence to DOT regulations and some internal reflection. This blog aims to equip freight brokers and shippers with a good starter DOT compliance checklist, utilizing FMCSA source data for informed, risk-averse decision-making in carrier partnerships and help them avoid liability due to negligent hiring practices.

DOT Compliance for carriers

What Is DOT Compliance?

Freight brokers and shippers that hire motor carriers have an established history of potential liability for the actions of such carriers. Moreover, these companies may be liable if carriers fail to deliver cargo on time, damage cargo, or otherwise cause adverse outcomes to others on the roads. Now, the DOT regulations encompass a range of critical areas, including drug and alcohol testing, driver training, and maintaining comprehensive driver qualification files. However, selecting a carrier that fails to comply with DOT standards can lead to significant issues, such as legal challenges, cargo damage, or delivery delays. That’s why more companies are rethinking their vetting processes and establishing firm checklists to ensure each hire is the right hire.

The DOT Datapoint Checklist for Brokers

It’s important to realize that your business functions and processes should also guide your DOT data point checklist. The following tool guides brokers and shippers through the intricate process of vetting potential carrier partners, ensuring strict adherence to DOT rules and regulations. However, your activities may lead to a deeper dive or review of carrier activities. Regardless, here are the top things your DOT compliance checklist should include: 

  • USDOT Number – Determine if the carrier has an active USDOT number, and review how many years it’s been in business. If the status is anything but active, know why and what that Operating Status means. 
  • FMCSA Operating Authority – The FMCSA Motor Carrier (MC) number is necessary for interstate commerce. Ensure that it has active status, know what type of motor carrier authority they have, and when they were granted that authority. Finally, look for any lapses in authority which may be cause to ask why.
  • Insurance Documentation – FMCSA regulates BIPD for interstate motor carriers, and you can view current coverage on the FMCSA Licensing and Insurance site. You should also request proof of insurance ( the Insurance ACORD) directly from the carrier’s insurance agent or review digital Evidence of Insurance documentation for coverage limits and deductibles for BIPD & Cargo.
  • Inspection and Violation Reports – This dataset shows how safely a motor carrier runs its business. Seeing carriers with an OOS designation and numerous roadside inspections and violations may mean the carrier has been prioritized for more FMCSA intervention. In other words, working with this carrier could lead to delayed delivery.
  • Safety Rating – You can verify the safety rating by visiting the FMCSA Safer Web. The data here shows whether the carrier you wish to hire is in good standing with the FMCSA.  The industry standard is to avoid carriers with an Unsatisfactory safety rating. Your organization should determine your internal guidelines for carriers that are unrated or have a Conditional safety rating.    
  • Truck and Driver Ratios – This is among the most overlooked parts of carrier motor vetting. Knowing the number of trucks and drivers versus the job the broker is hiring the carrier for should make mathematical sense.

Stay in the Know With Carrier Details Data Sets

The above can help you better understand the core focus areas in reviewing carriers for hire and avoiding risk. While possible, manual reviews of motor carriers using FMCSA public data portals often prove too time-consuming and labor-intensive. Brokers and shippers must understand the industry standards and do so in a reliable manner to protect their business from risk. But there’s a better process. Rather than trying to do it all manually, those same entities can automate their processes via an epic and up-to-date carrier database like Carrier Details.  

Carrier Details provides this data en masse, significantly enhancing decision-making processes by enabling technology with a foundational repository of the most updated FMCSA source data. Carrier Details is the trusted expert in managing and distributing FMCSA source data, with dependable data feeds on Every USDOT, MC Number, AND Every DETAIL! Request your sample Carrier Details dataset now. 

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