Owner-Operators and Small Fleets Are Still In Sight Of DOT Offsite Audits

Owner-Operators and Small Fleets Are Still In Sight Of DOT Offsite Audits

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Owner-operators are in surprise throughout a trend that emerged within the COVID-19 pandemic from the past year. In the U.S. Department of Transportation, and of course, their state enforcement partners would keep on leveraging new authority to perform offsite. In this case, there are remote safety audits and compliance reviews of trucking companies. This has all been done in lieu of onsite, in-person audits, which was typically about the norm before the pandemic.

Oh, those Owner-Operators!


Over 80% of every audit is under the observation of the Department of Transportation. Owner-operators should worry. State partners had 20 or fewer trucks, all according to DOT data. Over 53.6% of them were carriers with six trucks or less.


The percentages beyond 2020 are in line with prior years’ breakdown of motor carrier compliance reviews by fleet size. Not the most helpful for owner-operators. Originally, it was from 1,374 offsite audits to about 5,753, or 50.3% of the 11,433 total audits. This was of course thanks to the Department of Transportation and various state partners in the year before.


Furthermore, this spike found within offsite audits happens to be more pronounced, comparably from 2018 and 2017 as well — where only just 2% and 0.5% of these safety audits, respectively, had undergone conduction in such a manner. Owner-operators should be careful.


Lesley Sachs, one of the partners at the transportation-focused law firm Taylor & Associates, had this to say: “FMCSA was putting this infrastructure in place and testing [offsite audits] even before the COVID pandemic.”


As has been on the ends of everyone’s minds, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration starts to leverage new authority. This is a part of the federal government’s COVID-19 response.

This then allows the FMCSA to issue carriers safety ratings (Satisfactory, Conditional, Unsatisfactory) via remote audits.


Sachs believes that enforcers still leverage CSA scores for the motor carriers to target safety audits. “When you have them, put in corrective actions to stop it from becoming a trend.”

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