5 Shipper Tips for Surviving DOT Week

5 Shipper Tips for Surviving DOT Week

Today, May 14, marks the start of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CSVA) International Roadcheck, better known as DOT Week.

This annual event is the world’s largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles, and the statistics it racks up are truly impressive:

  • 72-hour inspection period
  • 15 vehicle inspections per minute
  • Nearly 60,000 inspections in 2023
  • 19% of vehicle inspections and 5.5% of driver inspections resulted in out-of-service violations in 2023

This year’s Roadcheck event will take place starting today, Tuesday, May 14 through Thursday, May 16, and it will focus on tractor protection systems and alcohol and controlled substance possession in spot checks throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

As you can see, this event can have a real impact on your supply chain, not only from the capacity taken out of service through inspections but also because many drivers and carriers may simply choose to take the week off instead of deal with the hassle. This diminished capacity can have a further knock-on effect on spot rates — they’re typically elevated throughout the week when there are fewer drivers on the road and they can be pickier about what they’re willing to haul.

5 Quick Tips

Want to make it through DOT Week this year without any serious negative effects? Keep these five tips in mind while you’re scheduling and managing shipments for the three days of the event.

  1. Be flexible about driver arrival times. The carriers hauling your freight may be dealing with delays throughout the day and might not be able to hit very precise pick-up and delivery windows. Even if you’re usually very stringent about timing, give a bit more leeway throughout the three-day event.
  2. Stick to realistic transit times. If your transit is extremely lengthy or features tight loading or unloading windows, you might have a hard time getting a carrier to take it on this week.
  3. Clearly communicate and agree on layover accessorials. Drivers know that moving shipments during DOT Week may take more time than usual, and to them, time is money. Inspection delays can mean that drivers may run out of service hours and have to deliver your shipment the following day. Talk openly about this possibility and agree on a fair payment schedule to make your freight attractive for carriers and avoid any unpleasant disagreements.
  4. Consider deprioritizing low-urgency shipments. If your freight doesn’t absolutely have to move this week — especially if it is going to move a long distance — consider waiting until the event is over. You’re likely to find more abundant capacity, stronger compliance to your routing guide from your primary carriers, and more attractive rates on the spot market.
  5. Keep a healthy perspective. While you may encounter some additional headaches this week, you’re very unlikely to find yourself in a full-scale supply chain catastrophe. Try to relax, roll with the punches, and stay positive as you navigate its speed bumps.

Remember that just because the inspection event itself ends on Thursday, capacity won’t be back to normal first thing Friday morning — some drivers will take vacation with their families through the weekend, and the ones that are back on the road will likely find an influx of additional freight that shippers were holding onto waiting for inspections to be over. It is called “DOT Week” for a reason, after all.

But with the right mindset, proper preparation, and a commitment to communication and flexibility, your supply chain should keep right on rolling through it without too much trouble.