So the method they use to try to prevent companies and individual drivers from causing public outrage, yet still keeping the economy as strong and efficient as possible, is to monitor how often a company and its drivers are breaking the law and keep it at an acceptable level.
The DOT and other law enforcement agencies will monitor both the individual drivers on the roadways and the trucking companies themselves. As individual drivers are ticketed nationwide the number of tickets being issued, what the tickets are being issued for, and WHO they are being issued to is being closely tracked.
They will track the number of tickets that are being given for things like traffic, logbook, and equipment safety violations. On top of this they will examine the number and type of accidents that a company's drivers have been involved in. The DOT will also do small amounts of random auditing of logbooks at the offices of individual trucking companies. The DOT basically has predetermined numbers of acceptable law-breaking limits based on percentages. What those exact numbers are is far less important than how they handle a company whose drivers are above these acceptable limits.
If an audit is done at a company and the DOT finds that too high of a percentage of logbooks are being found to have violations then the DOT can take a variety of actions ranging from a verbal warning to heavy fines to completely shutting down the company permanently.
In case you're wondering, yes, a number of companies have been put completely out of business over the years for very high levels of violations. The same applies to a company's safety record, equipment violation record, and the number of traffic tickets being issued to the company's drivers.
Now here's where the whole system begins to work against the individual drivers. Not only can an individual driver lose his or her license for getting too many points on it from traffic violations, but if the DOT begins to find too many problems within a company they will demand that some sort of action is taken.
Now the DOT does NOT want to shut down a company. But they don't mind fining the company (don't mind it at all actually) and they don't mind seeing the company fire some of its drivers for having too many log violations, traffic violations, or accidents.
They want to allow the company and its drivers to break the laws in order to benefit everyone but not to the extent that too many accidents take place and threaten the well being of the economy and causing public outrage to threaten the career of elected officials. So let's begin to tie this all together.