By Richard Pummell, Foley Carrier Services
Many motor carriers assume that as long as their business doesn’t employ CDL drivers who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of over 26,000 pounds, that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations don’t apply to them.
In actuality, most regulations apply to businesses that operate vehicles with a GVWR/GCWR of 10,000 pounds or more. (See Code of Federal Regulations [49 CFR] Part 390.5 for the FMCSA’s complete definition of a CMV.)
Driver Qualification Files
In addition to the Hours of Service and Vehicle Maintenance requirements we discussed in previous articles, there are specific records that must be maintained regarding driver qualifications.
Most businesses keep employee documents in one personnel file. But businesses that are regulated by the DOT also need to have a Driver Qualification File containing specific records and documentation that demonstrates the employee is safe enough, healthy enough and qualified to operate a CMV.
Here is a look at the essential documents in a driver’s personnel file.
DOT Employment Application: Although most businesses use employment applications that are acceptable to the FMCSA, it is important to know what specific information is required that may not be included on standard applications, such as:
• Three years of employment history – this includes any time spent unemployed, as a student or incarcerated. There can be no gaps in time. (It is important to note here that if an applicant is applying for a job operating a vehicle with a GVWR/GCWR of 26,000 pounds or more, they must list 10 years of employment history.)
• The extent and nature of the applicant’s experience operating any type of motor vehicle.
• Any/all moving violations received over the previous three years; if no violations were received, a statement indicating such.
• Any/all accidents the applicant was involved in over the previous three years; if no accidents occurred, a statement indicating such.
• The applicant must indicate any circumstances that resulted in a denial, revocation or suspension of any license to operate a motor vehicle. If no denial, revocation or suspension occurred, a statement indicating such.
Medical Certification: The employer must obtain a copy of the applicant’s current and valid medical certification. Drivers are required to undergo a DOT medical evaluation at a minimum of every 24 months. It is the employer’s responsibility to keep track of certification expiration dates in order to ensure that drivers are consistently physically qualified to operate CMVs.
Commercial Driver’s License or Road Test Certification: A copy of the applicant’s current and valid driver’s license must be obtained. If the applicant holds a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), a copy of that is sufficient. If no CDL is required, employers must retain evidence that the driver successfully completed a road test in the type of vehicle being operated. It is the employer’s responsibility to keep track of license expiration dates in order to ensure that drivers are consistently qualified to operate CMVs.
Safety Performance History Investigation: This investigation must be run on an applicant for the previous three years for all DOT-regulated positions he or she may have held, and must contain the following:
• Written authorization from the applicant allowing the investigation to be conducted.
• Responses from any DOT-regulated employers. If previous employers do not respond to the inquiry, documentation that attempts were made to obtain the information.
• If the applicant did not hold any DOT-regulated positions, documentation indicating such.
Initial and Annual Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs): Also known as “driving records,” this report is a critical aspect of the Driver Qualification File. The MVR must be run on an applicant for the previous three years in all states the applicant held a license. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure MVRs are run no less than once every 12 months.
Annual Review of Driving Record and List of Violations: Along with the annual MVRs, employers must require drivers to submit a list of any moving violations they may have received over the previous 12 months. If no violations occurred, documentation must be maintained that the employee has indicated such. After reviewing the MVR and List of Violations, the employer must maintain documentation of this driving record review.
Confidentiality of Records and Retention Requirements: The FMCSA requires all confidential records – such as the Safety Performance History Investigation – to be maintained in a secure environment with limited access.
All Driver Qualification Files must be maintained for the duration of an individual’s employment and for three years thereafter.
Due to specific requirements set for drivers, many DOT-regulated businesses opt to employ a Third Party Administrator, such as Foley Carrier Services, to set up and maintain their Driver Qualification Files.
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