Keep in mind that all requirements for company-owned equipment also apply to owner-operator or leased equipment, if controlled for 30 or more consecutive days. If owner-operators are utilized, separate files should be kept for those units as well.
The use of owner-operators brings up some issues that should be considered. First, we suggest that, prior to signing the written lease agreement with an owner-operator, a written inspection of the owner-operator’s equipment be conducted by the contracting carrier, or a facility designated by the contracting carrier. It is also suggested that you require owner-operators to have at least a quarterly inspection of their equipment for your company records. This could be accomplished by:
- Requiring an inspection by your own company shop (if applicable); or
- Giving the owner-operators the flexibility to obtain a written inspection from any shop they choose; or
- Determining a particular shop they must go to; or
- Accepting a Level 1 roadside inspection showing no defects.
You should track the expiration dates of owner-operators’ annual DOT inspections and notify those drivers well in advance that they need to obtain a new inspection.
Owner-operators should also be required to submit monthly maintenance reports similar to Form 7-6, “Inspection, Repair and Maintenance Record”. Monthly reports should require documentation of stated maintenance.
Remember, DOT requires that motor carriers “shall systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control”. This ultimately makes you responsible for ensuring that owner-operator equipment is well maintained.