New Carriers

FMCSA Truck Driver Qualification Checklist: 5 Things You Need

Published on
May 22, 2022
min read

All employers must maintain records of their drivers, including a driver qualification file (DQF). Your DQFs keep drivers’ information in one place, and they ensure your company always stays compliant. In addition to safety, the financial implications are a major reason why you should always keep accurate, detailed driver records.

Managing a fleet, whether it’s 5 trucks or 50, requires constant vigilance. To protect your business, ELDs and DQ profiles should be routinely monitored and updated according to FMCSA guidelines.

The FMCSA sets CDL driver standards to help DOT carriers hire the right candidates. Its driver qualifications, explained in chapter 6 of the Motor Carrier Safety Planner, help you protect your company. They ensure your drivers are all qualified for the job, and they keep your company from unintentionally falling out of compliance.

No matter how happy your customers are, without being compliant, you run the risk of major fines and even losing authority.

In this guide, we’ll cover six things you need in your driver qualification file checklist. Additionally, we’ll explore ongoing file requirements for your DOT driver qualifications in 2022.

FMCSA Driver Qualifications Checklist Requirements

FMCSA regulations affect drivers as much as employers. While someone may feel there’s a lot to do before they qualify to be a driver, there’s an equal amount of requirements for someone looking to onboard new truckers for their business.

These are the people who you’ll hand the keys to your most valuable assets to. Following the guidelines will help you screen candidates and ensure you only get the best people for the job.

Below are six of the must-have requirements for every driver qualification profile.

Driver Files

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR 391, all trucking authorities must maintain detailed records of their drivers. These include a copy of their employment application, a copy of their road test, a copy of their license, and their motor vehicle records.

If a driver earned their CDL after February 7, 2022, they should provide proof of entry-level driver training (ELDT). A letter from their school or certificate of completion will suffice.

If a driver has a past commercial driving history, the new company must submit an inquiry for safety records from their previous employers within the last three years.

You must also ask the potential employee if they have ever tested positive for drugs and alcohol or refused to submit to a screening in the past three years. If they admit they have tested positive or previously refused to test, then they must complete return-to-duty testing before they can get behind the wheel.

Background Check

All businesses with DOT authority must run background checks and complete drug and alcohol screenings on potential drivers. The DOT background check must include a thorough investigation of a candidate's driving history for the last 10 years, their DOT employment history, an FMCSA drug and alcohol screen test, and a physical exam that deems them fit for service.

Your company must complete all background check inquiries and screenings within 30 days of a new driver’s start date to stay compliant. Failure to complete these checks, including gathering all the aforementioned files, can result in a violation and penalty fee.

Copy of Driver’s Commercial License (CDL)

Every driver must hold a valid commercial license (CDL) and any additional certifications necessary for the type of vehicle and freight they haul. Inquiring to state agencies for motor vehicle records along with a confirmation of the driver’s CDL validity should be done within 30 days of hiring.

Medical Examiner’s Certificate/DOT Form Card

All eligible drivers must undergo an FMCSA medical exam before they can legally drive a commercial vehicle for your company. They should provide their Medical Examiner’s Certificate, also known as a DOT Form Card, at their time of application.

In order for the medical exam to be valid, a nationally certified physician must perform the evaluation within the last 24 months. According to the FMCSA DOT driver qualification checklist, a carrier must also maintain a copy of the examination results from the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS).

Employers must also include a note in their driver qualifications record that the exam was performed by a nationally certified physician, as per the FMCSA’s standards.

Annual License Review

When hiring new drivers, even those with long employment histories, a company must perform a license inquiry. They must review their annual driving record to ensure they still meet the standards for holding a CDL and that they are not disqualified under 49 CFR 391.15.

Each driver’s CDLIS profile will easily provide the most current information about their license status, medical exam, and any safety violations.

Motor Vehicle Records (MVR)

In addition to requesting safety records from the last three years of employers, you must also request a copy of a candidate’s MVR from the state department. All drivers must submit annual reports of any violations they receive, and carriers must compare this with previous driving records.

Ongoing DOT Driver Qualifications File Requirements

In addition to the initial file’s documentation, carrier’s must also:

  • Receive an annual copy of drivers’ violations in the last 12 months.
  • Review and update their driving record every 12 months.
  • Update their medical exam every 2 years.
  • Update every driver’s MVR annually.

A carrier must hold all of these records for the entire duration of a driver’s employment and three years after termination. It’s important to keep detailed records and reminders to remain compliant. In addition to hiring new drivers, DQ files also ensure employed drivers are always operating according to the latest FMCSA standards.

Staying Compliant With DQFs

Using a driver qualification file checklist like this one can help you stay compliant and protect your business. If you have a large number of drivers, then you may consider centralizing all your DQFs into a DQ management software. This makes it easy to always monitor and update information across your fleet.

The right driver management software can also help you automate processes, like pulling MVR records annually and sending alerts to drivers when you need new information.

When it comes to managing your office, Truckbase can assist you where it matters. So you can spend more time with your family and on the road.  Check out why so many truckers switch to Truckbase Today!

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