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How to Stay Compliant with Driver Qualification Rules

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It’s important for trucking companies to be compliant with driver qualification rules by hiring good truck drivers and keeping updated driver qualification files (DQF). With driver shortage issues affecting the trucking industry, hiring good drivers has always been crucial, but trucking companies also need to make sure they are staying compliant when it comes to mandated driver qualification rules.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure your trucking company is properly following driver qualification rules by keeping a DQF.

According to parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR), interstate trucking companies first need to make sure a candidate is qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The best way to confirm you are hiring qualified drivers is to keep a DQF on each driver, which is required by the FMCSR.

Under the driver qualification rules, trucking companies must keep a DQF for each hired driver for the past 3 years.

Driver Qualification File Requirements:

For more information on the requirements, visit the FMCSA website here.

  • The driver’s completed application for employment (§ 391.21)
  • A copy of the motor vehicle record (MVR) received from each State (§ 391.23(a))
  • The certificate of driver’s road test issued to the driver (§ 391.31(e)), or a copy of the license or certificate which the motor carrier accepted as equivalent to the driver’s road test (§ 391.33)
  • The motor vehicle record received from each State driver licensing agency to the annual driver record inquiry (§ 391.25(a))
  • A note relating to the annual review of the driver’s driving record (§ 391.25(c))
  • A list or certificate relating to violations of motor vehicle laws and ordinances (§ 391.27)
  • The medical examiner’s certificate or a legible copy of the certificate. (§ 391.43(g)) Exceptions on this can be found on the FMCSA website.
  • A Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate obtained from a Field Administrator, Division Administrator, or State Director (§ 391.49) or the Medical Exemption document, issued by a Federal medical program
  • A note relating to verification of medical examiner on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (§ 391.23(m))

Items which should not be kept in a DQF include:

  • A driver’s detailed medical history. Be sure to only keep the medical certificate to avoid violating any HIPAA laws.
  • Any driver drug and alcohol information, which should be kept in a separate confidential file.

A word of caution to all trucking companies; if you do not comply with the driver qualification rules, you could be liable for a civil penalty up to $10,000 for each violation.

DQF Checklist

To help you, Apex has created a checklist, which you can use to be sure you have the correct documents from a driver and that a driver meets the necessary qualifications.