Vendors can help streamline trucking paperwork for a big fee

Also in this month's View from the Road, IFB's Kirby Wagner provides a video update of fees that increased on July 1.

By Kirby Wagner

Annoying, helpful, scary. The top responses I hear when it comes to vendors. Yes, vendors. I’m referring to the phone call, email or letter in the mail stating that you are out of compliance for violating sections of the code of federal regulation, and if you don’t send money you’ll be fined so much per day until you do.

In some cases, the name of the vendor looks like a government agency. Some of the phone calls sound threatening. But in most cases, it is just a vendor with no power to enforce compliance.

Certain forms on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, once completed, will publish carrier information that can be seen or searched by the public. This, believe it or not, is for safety. Shippers can access a carrier’s safety record.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, for instance, is a good example of information available to the public. The USDOT number is used to track violations and penalties attached to the carrier’s fleet. If a shipper is looking for a carrier to haul a product, they can access the carrier information and see if they meet their standards for shipping.

Unfortunately, there are some registrations that the trucking industry and the farming industry share. The USDOT number is one of them. A farmer who has a USDOT number has their safety record published.

That is where the vendors come in. Vendors make contact and demand money for being out of compliance. In most cases, the vendor will complete the registration for you. They are likely running a legitimate business. However, the fee they will charge will be over and above what is needed.

Annoying, helpful, scary. Some farmers use the service to save the hassle of paperwork. They pay the fee and the vendor keeps the registrations up to date. Some are frustrated with all the solicitation. Others fear the government is coming after you for non-compliance situation.

If you have concerns, please contact the staff at the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety. They will help determine if the information is real or just a vendor. You can also contact me at Illinois Farm Bureau. I can be reached at kwagner@ilfb.org.

Have a trucking- or transportation-related question or questions? If so, email us at ViewFromTheRoad@ilfb.org, and we’ll do our best to answer each one.

Kirby Wagner serves as assistant director of transportation and local government for Illinois Farm Bureau.

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