DOT Compliance Safety with Sun Tzu (Part 3) Prepare the Battlefield


Sun Tzu’s third lesson; “Prepare the Battlefield” . . . I’m not proud to admit this, but I started a 3-part discussion of the principles of Sun Tzu and how these time-honored management concepts might be well-used by a newly-hired or newly-appointed transportation safety manager today, a long damned time ago.

Sun Tzu part I – October 2016 –  “Know yourself”

Sun Tzu part II – October 2016 – “Know your enemy”

Sun Tzu part III – January 2018 – “Prepare the battlefield” . . . What can I say? I’ve been busy.

Here’s my suggestion; read parts I and II, THEN come back and read this one.

While you are at it, read the other blogs that follow Sun Tzu part II.

I just re-read them all, and I really mean it when I say they are good reading. And, if you are the new safety guy for a transportation department of a construction company, or a manufacturing company, or ANY entity that needs a truck or two as a part of it’s overall business footprint, this Read more of this post

In favor of on-site DOT training


If you are new in the business, I think a 4-day seminar is a great starting place.

But, there is some training that all members of management should have.

BLUF: (bottom line up front) – The whole management team needs some DOT training, because without it, you might make a bad mistake that gets you in trouble with the DOT, and also because the DOT requires training for every employee, including mgt and drivers.

The biggest reason I say this is, I’ve seen so many situations where Read more of this post

Who is DOT Compliance Help, Inc.?


So, who is DOT Compliance Help, Inc.? Any time I am introduced to a new company, I want to know:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What do they do?
  • Who are the key people?
    • In the next few pages, I hope to answer most of these questions
    • I want to help you know who we are

As many business managers have learned, DOT regulations are not just for trucking companies. If you are in ANY type business, including, but not limited to: construction, manufacturing, importing, distribution, etc., and you need a 10,000-lb-plus truck for any business chores, chances are the DOT regulations apply to you.

The way the agency puts it this way: “The rules. . . are applicable to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that transport property or passengers in interstate commerce.”

To fully understand this we have to look at Read more of this post

DOT Fines and Violations Updates


Someone reminded me a couple days ago, the DOT made some adjustments in their fine amounts earlier in 2016. Some of the changes were not terribly dramatic, some of them were pretty interesting. It doesn’t even show up on the DOT Website as a news release. But sometimes I think it is useful to review what some of the DOT’s potential fines are, as people have never heard them. I’ll touch on a few; and if anyone is interested in the chart, I can send it via email.

Failure to submit to a request for information: It was $1,000 Read more of this post

The Private Motor Carrier as Sun Tzu (The Art of War) Part 2


In our continuing discussion of Sun Tzu The Private Motor Carrier, we think about what the Chinese mercenary general might do if he was hired to run a private fleet for an existing construction company.

Last time we talked about the steps Sun Tzu might take in order to:

“Know Yourself” – the first part of Sun Tzu’s best-known quote:

“Know yourself, Know your enemy, and prepare the battle-field”

To review, I suggested he might:

  1. Make a list of his assets (CMVs)
  2. Study the accident register and loss runs, as well as moving violations
  3. Review all training records for the most-recent 24 months.
  4. Conduct his own informal survey of the organizations safety posture

Now, we’ll discuss how Sun Tzu might tackle the 2nd part of his most-well-known truth: “Know yourself, know your enemy, prepare the battlefield.”

When you are focusing on safety management controls, who is the enemy?

Some people think the FMCSA is the enemy, but they really aren’t.

I can see how people feel this way; but the FMCSA is really all about saving lives. I could spend all afternoon speculating about how the agency’s inconsistent enforcement effort levels the playing field, giving an advantage to the small motor carriers who don’t have much to lose, while handicapping larger motor carriers who fear being shut down as a result of even one or two mistakes.

The enemy is complacency. Read more of this post

The Private Motor Carrier as Sun Tzu (The Art of War) Part 1


Sun Tzu the Private Motor Carrier

 Sometimes I refer to Sun Tzu during seminars; and I always start by saying “Some of you have probably heard of Sun Tzu.” It’s not unusual for people to have read something about this Chinese mercenary general who lived 5 centuries before Christ.

But most people have never thought about this: If Sun Tzu was here today, and he was the traffic manager for, let’s say, a construction company, how would he approach the role?

Here’s what we know about Sun Tzu: One of the most-frequently-quoted truths found in Sun Tzu’s book, The Art of War, is this one:

 “Know the enemy and know yourself”

As an engineering officer in the Army, I was told Sun Tzu said “Know yourself; Know your enemy, and Prepare the battlefield”.

While this might be an imaginative interpretation, stemming from some charismatic Army staff officer in the 1980’s, we don’t know that Sun Tzu didn’t say this. And, we can easily apply these 3 rules to every challenge, every decision, every challenge we will ever face. I will demonstrate:

  • Know yourself.

If Sun Tzu were assigned the responsibility of managing a fleet of construction vehicles today, I believe the first thing he might do is to make a list of his assets, or ask someone to do it for him. Depending on the size of the organization, you may be a one-man shop or you might be able to delegate some mundane tasks. Either way, you must have a list of CMVs, by year, make, model, and GVWR. Read more of this post

“Don’t lose the lesson” – Root Cause Analysis


During seminars, I always try to encourage people to devote a percentage of their time to case studies. “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson” I say. “Learn from your mistakes. But, don’t wait ‘til you have had a tragedy to find a way to improve your own safety management controls. Learn from other’s mistakes.”

So pick up a newspaper from time to time, particularly when there has been a truck crash near you or in your industry, and read the article with a critical mind; thinking about root cause.

A lady in a car T-bones a school bus while she is talking on her cell phone. No one is hurt, but maybe this is a reminder to Read more of this post

Transportation Bill Thoughts


The US House of Representatives is apparently focused entirely on the transportation bill this week – there are some interesting articles coming out about it. The way they make laws in this country – it’s terrible and it’s ugly but it’s the best system ever devised.

Here’s this bill, all about transportation, and the country’s future and the (possible) solution to the crumbling infrastructure and everything, and the first step is, they have to vote up or down on a hundred amendments, many of which have nothing to do with transportation. But some do. Read more of this post

4 Solid Reasons to Attend a Conference


  1. Networking (Meeting People Like YOU)

Many times, you are the safety person for your company because NO ONE ELSE is. Which means you are working with people who aren’t doing what you are doing. It’s nice to meet, interact, and bond with people doing the SAME work as you are.

    2. Read more of this post

Are Printers needed for EOBRs?


I received a question from a client recently and thought I’d share the response to help clear up confusion about AOBRs (automatic on-board recorders), EOBRs (electronic on-board recorders) and some other related technologies out there.

“I had a driver pulled over yesterday Read more of this post