If you’re starting a trucking company or already have one, you’ll need to make sure it complies with all the FMCSA’s registrations and requirements. According to the Federal motor carrier safety administration (FMCSA), trucking companies must operate legally to stay in business. Moreover, every employed driver must have a qualification file maintained by all motor carriers.
To run a business unhindered and smoothly, it is pertinent to hold a DOT driver qualification file. For example, if a truck enters the state of California, then it must possess a California dot number. The California Highway Patrol issues a unique number called the California Department of Transportation Number. A California dot number is required for motor carriers operating inside the state of California. If you don’t have an active DOT number, you could face serious fines and penalties. You never know when your company will be subjected to a compliance audit or assessment.
Driver Qualification File
A driver qualification file is essentially a comprehensive dossier that contains each driver’s whole employment, safety, and certification history. The FMCSA requires that you keep your operating authority. You must keep a driver qualification file on yourself even if you are an owner-operator.
All your trucking company’s driver qualification files must be easily accessible if and when an agent acting under the jurisdiction of the FMCSA (which is, in turn, acting under the authority of the Department of Transportation), requests them.
You must keep a driver qualification file for each year you employ a driver, as well as for three years after their employment ends. You’ll require records from previous employers if a driver has worked with you for less than three years.
What Information Should Be Included in a Driver Qualification File?
For each driver on payroll, the trucking companies must have the following documentation in their driver qualification files:
- An application of employment
- Employee’s current and previous motor vehicle record
- Records of violation and safety performance
- Copy of license, road tests, and training certificates
- Medical reports
An application of employment
You can use your application, or one provided by the FMCSA, but you must keep a copy in each qualifying file. If you create your own, make sure it complies with all applicable federal employment rules.
Employee’s current and previous Motor vehicle record
The most recent MVR should be for the preceding twelve months and come from the state that issued the driver’s license. In addition, you must have MVRs for each driver for the past three years, with no gaps, whether you were their employer at the time. You’ll need an MVR for each state if the driver was licensed in more than one. If the driver possesses a commercial driver’s license, they must also name all other employers they’ve worked for in the past 10 years.
Records of violation and safety performance
You must keep formally certified records of any moving vehicle, alcohol, or controlled substance offenses committed by the driver, except for parking violations, whether you hired the driver at the time of the violations. This may also involve preserving evidence of inquiries into documents obtained, as well as infractions that happened while you were employed with you and the formal steps you made to resolve the violation. You must also keep track of your safety performance for the current year of work as well as the prior three calendar years.
Copy of license, road tests, and training certificates
This is a quite simple category including, copies of everything a driver needs to operate legally on file. Maintain a current copy of the driver’s CDL if he or she possesses one. You should also keep copies of the driver’s road tests and different certificates (e.g., Entry Level, Longer Combination Vehicle, etc.) that he or she has earned or been required to maintain in any areas where he or she might need to conduct their job more specifically than the minimum standards.
Your trucking company’s drivers must be medically cleared to operate a motor vehicle. This certification must be renewed every two years by a medical examiner who is a member of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
To further facilitate the whole process, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has changed its rules and now allowed the use of electronic records and signatures to meet regulatory criteria. The new rule allows carriers to electronically develop, certify, sign, preserve, and interchange records.
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