When you file for a DOT number, it becomes a unique identifier for you and your company. Recent action has even eliminated a “for hire” motor carrier number, making your DOT number the sole identifier for your operation. Completing the MCS-150 form or soon to be MCSA-1 form, will keep the DOT apprised of any changes you may have. Once the Unified Registration System (URS) is up and running, you will be able to do everything online at one convenient location. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that you update your information once every two years; with the dates of renewal dependent on your DOT Number itself.
Many carriers, once they have filed for a DOT Number, fail to update the information as required. In 2013, this violation was made a priority and many carriers received fines for not completing this critical update. Under new regulations, the FMCSA can actually deactivate the DOT Number of a carrier that has not updated their number. This action basically puts the carrier out of service and can require them to file for a new DOT Number. It now imposes a $300 activation fee and requires all new DOT Number recipients go through a New Entrant Audit.
Safety Measurement System (SMS) relies on information in your DOT profile to rate your safety
The FMCSA developed their Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program in an effort to give the FMCSA better data to make smarter carrier interventions. The data section of CSA is known as the Safety Measurement System (SMS) that rates motor carriers on 7 basic categories. Those scores are used by the FMCSA and local motor carrier enforcement personnel to take corrective action and to identify poorly performing carriers for roadside inspections. The information that you as a carrier put into your DOT Profile is used in those determinations and calculations. Therefore, it is vitally important that you have the most up-to-date and correct information reflected in your DOT Profile.
Review your profile for accuracy and completeness
Thoroughly review the profile to make sure that you designate exactly the type of carrier that you are and make sure you only check the categories that reflect your operation. If you are incorrectly listed as a hazmat carrier, you would be subject to higher threshold values on some of the basic categories.
Update your contact information
The FMCSA rarely sends out blast emails to motor carriers, but when they do they encourage companies to update their profile regularly. Over 50% of these rare email blasts were returned as not deliverable, mainly because the contact person was no longer associated with the carrier. Rather than use an individual's email such as John.Doe@acme.com, it would be better to create a group-monitored email box like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com that can be maintained if an individual leaves the company. Individual names can still be used as a person to contact, but use the more generic email address to ensure there are no communication gaps.
Update your Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and number of power units
The SMS uses VMT in determining scores in the "crash" and "unsafe driving" basic categories. It is important to calculate this carefully, possibly using fuel tax numbers to assist you in arriving at your accurate total.
If you are adding a number of vehicles to your fleet, estimate the mileage in accordance with your current usage then make an update when you have more concrete mileage numbers. Make sure you accurately report the number of commercial vehicles that you have and include pick-up trucks that might be used to haul hazard materials or pull larger trailers, even if used seasonally. Waiting to have numbers will cause your numbers to be possibly misinterpreted.
Where to update your profile
Visit the FMCSA website to update your DOT registration profile.