There’s an adage that says, “What gets measured, gets done.” The reason is simple: if something is being measured, it is being monitored, and something that is monitored stays in focus.
When monitoring, deviations from the planned state can be immediately addressed. This is why so many individuals and companies use credit monitoring and identity monitoring services. They simply cannot afford to find out that there is a problem after the damage is done. Monitoring DOT registrations is done for much the same reason. It allows carriers to catch changes to their filings before adverse events occur – like being prohibited from operating.
Monitoring Operating Status
The federal rules state that a carrier must have an active USDOT number to engage in interstate transportation and must have for-hire operating authority in order to haul property that is not their own or people who are not employees. Absent monitoring, carriers likely will not know that they can no longer legally operate until one of their vehicles has been shut down at a roadside inspection point.
Monitoring Registration Status
The most common non-safety related way to lose an active registration is by not providing the FMCSA with timely updates. Due to the required biennial update cycle, this can easily happen after a move because the mailing address to receive notifications has changed or the individual that was responsible for the updates was reassigned or is no longer with the company. In addition to the required updates, it is a best practice to provide interim updates when the operation changes in size, scope, or commodities transported.
Monitoring the Number of Vehicles and Miles Traveled
The number of power units and the number of miles traveled annually factor into two of the seven Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories or BASIC scores. It stands to reason that the more vehicles a company operates and the more miles they travel, the higher the likelihood that their drivers may have a moving violation or an accident. By monitoring and accurately reporting the miles traveled and vehicle count, companies can ensure that they are fairly compared with other carriers that have a similar number of “at bats.”
Monitoring Insurance Status
All carriers must have liability insurance in place or be able to demonstrate an equivalent level of financial responsibility. Interstate for-hire property or passenger carriers, interstate hazardous material haulers, and many intrastate hazardous material haulers need to have filed, on behalf of the operation proof of these coverages with the FMCSA. If the coverage is canceled for any reason, the provider will notify the FMCSA. If coverages are not reestablished, the carrier will no longer be able to transport the commodities or passengers. This is the most common way that for-hire property and passenger carriers lose their authority and receive a red-letter warning of “not authorized.”
Monitoring Process Agent Status
A process agent serves as a carrier's "statutory agent.” The agent functions as a conduit between the legal systems and the company. This enables court actions to be served in the jurisdiction in which the event occurred and eliminates the need to search for the location of a motor carrier domiciled in another jurisdiction.
Process agents are designated for each state in which a for-hire property or passenger is authorized to operate in or traverse through. Private carriers operating in the United States transporting between points in a foreign country also need to file a designation for each state traversed. In addition, brokers designate process agents for each state in which their offices are located and in states where agreements will be written.
Like having insurance in place, having process agents designated is a condition to operate when they are required. If, for whatever reason, an entity loses a process agent, they lose the ability to operate.
By continually monitoring your DOT registrations — or having a third party monitor them for you — you’re able to catch and react to changes before they become problems.