Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is by G.P.Borak. Mr. Borak has 25+ years as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) training, and consulting in issues related to Transportation, Transportation Compliance, CSA, DOT and FMCSA.
Hey, don’t you just love regulations? They are my favorite. Okay, I’m being facetious, but they are an everyday fact-of-life for most businesses. Allow me to outline what is required of the drivers and safety personnel in an effort to assist you in understand the process and reasoning behind the regulations pertaining to the Driver Qualification Files, and record keeping.
In the interest of safety on our highways, every company involved in interstate transportation by definition of the Federal Department of Transportation is determined to be a motor carrier subject to all federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSRs) found in federal code 49 CFR Parts 382-399. Any company employing commercial drivers must abide by the parts of the regulations that apply to the employer, and each employer must instruct each commercial driver regarding their responsibilities under these federal safety regulations.
As a requirement under 49 CFR part 391, each employer is required to establish and maintain Driver Qualification Files on each commercial driver it employs, and to make those DQFs available to the DOT in the event of an audit or accident, or investigation by a state or federal agency.
Driver Qualification File Q and A
Q) Do the DQF Requirements Apply To Our Company?
A) All for hire, and/or private companies engaged in interstate transportation are subject to all FMCSRs including establishing Driver Qualification Files. Even owner-operators must maintain a DQF on themselves.
Q) DQF Requirements
A) Each commercial driver must have a file entitled Drivers Qualification File (DQF), which is maintained separately from personnel records. Each DQF contains all required driver safety information as mandated by Part 391. This file must contain at minimum the following information. Important changes under 391.23 became effective October 29, 2004 and are included below:
• Driver’s Application for Employment
• An Inquiry into the Driver’s Driving Record from Every State Where Driver Held a CDL or Operators Permit during Past Three Years
• An Investigation into the Driver’s Employment Record
• Safety Performance History For Previous Three Years
• Drug and Alcohol Testing Information For Previous Three Years from any DOT Regulated Employer
• Annual review of driving records
• Annual Drivers Record of Violations
• Copy of valid Medical Card
• Copy of Valid CDL
• Certificate of Road Test or Equivalent
• Driver’s statement of On-Duty Hours for Newly Hired Drivers
Q) What is the definition of a Commercial Driver in Regards to a DQF?
A) Commercial drivers are those drivers capable of driving any vehicle in excess of 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and/or transports more than 1000 pounds of hazardous materials.
Q) Why Does The DOT Require So Much Information About Drivers?
A) In a word, safety. These rules were put into effect to protect you, me, and the general public who have the right not to be killed or injured while traveling on our highways. Unsafe, disqualified drivers cannot be allowed to operate on public highways
Q) How Much Time Do We Have To Establish A DQF for New Drivers?
A) Federal statute requires that each new driver have a completed DQF within thirty days of employment
Q) How involved is the investigation of Driving Records
A) The employer must contact all appropriate state agencies to request the driving record for each state where the driver held a CDL or operators permit in the past three years
Q) What Is the Extent Of An Investigation Into The Driver’s Employment History?
A) The investigation must include communication with every past employer listed on the application for the preceding three years. Established DOT procedures are in place to satisfy this federal requirement in the event previous employers cannot or will not provide the required information. Employers now must notify the FMCSA of previous employer violations.
Q) Safety Performance History
A) This requirement began October 29, 2004. When employers hire new drivers, they must request from all previous employers in the past 3 years additional information regarding both accidents and the drug and alcohol testing history of their driver. Document the request and file the response.
Q) What If We Fail To Implement DQFs for Our Commercial Drivers?
A) Failure to establish and maintain Driver Qualification Files carries a civil penalty under existing regulations. Under section 521 of the federal code, any person or company who is determined to have committed an act which is in violation of the Motor Carrier Safety Act, may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 per offense.
Q) Can My Company Easily Comply with This Requirement?
A) Certainly, a third party administrator knowledgeable about DQ files can be retained to cost-effectively handle this DOT requirement for your company. TPA’s have the knowledge, expertise and ability to quickly and easily help your company meet this requirement.
You will save yourself time, frustration but most of all money by ensuring you are DOT/CSA/FMSCA Audit ready at all times.
Please call Melinda Traynor at 405-293-3099 or contact her by e-mail at email@example.com if we can assist your with your transportation compliance needs.