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.
Bonus: Reasons Why You Should Digitalize the DOT Driver Qualification Files
In the 21st century, technology has become an unskippable part of our daily routine. It is hard to say whether something like that is good or not for people around the world. However, when we talk about DOT Driver Qualification Files, there are many benefits that you can get in case you decide to digitalize them.
Paper files can sometimes be annoying, and it may happen that you lose them when you need them the most. That is the reason why we would like to highlight five reasons why truck company owners should decide to digitalize these files as quickly as they can. Let’s go!
First Reason: Accessibility
As mentioned, paperwork often makes a complete mess and it often happens that we can lose the essential documents. That is the reason why these documents won’t always be accessible. On the other hand, if you decide to digitalize them, this type of issue is not going to be a problem.
Digitalizing DOT Driver Qualification Files will allow truck drivers to access them on every possible device. They can, for instance, do that by their smartphone, tablet, or even laptop. The service of that type is going to be available 24 hours a day. Truck drivers often drive during all parts of the day. That is the reason why they need to be sure that these files are available always.
The Files Are Going to Be Completely Safe
We recommend you once again read all the information that DOT files contain. You will easily notice that a lot of private data is going to be there. Because of that, you need to ensure that the information of your drivers is 100% safe. The best way to do that is to digitalize the files and take advantage of the digitalization.
For starters, you will be the only one who can control access to personal information. In that way, the drivers will feel safe all the time. On the other hand, you are also protecting your own truck company that way.
When the liability exposure is minimal, the workers start to trust your company to the fullest. In that way, you are becoming a place where many people would want to work. In other words, you are improving your reputation!
Lack of Physical Space Will No Longer Be a Problem
This may be an obvious benefit, but it is good to mention it. A lot of papers in one place can make a complete mess. Despite that, they will take you the necessary space inside your office that you can use for some other things. When you decide on digitalization, this will no longer be a problem as all files are going to be in the cloud server.
There is another way how you will save space. If you put all the DOC Driver Qualification Files on the cloud server, you will also manage to save the computer storage. That can be an extremely important thing in the 21st century for businesses in all industries (especially if you are still small).
It is not a secret that older generations are not that familiar with technology. That is the reason why many older truck drivers may not be satisfied to use it often. However, the good thing is that using cloud systems is easy for people of all ages. With a couple of clicks, they will easily show it to the agent when necessary.
We hope things are clear now to every truck owner who is not sure what DOT Driver Qualification Files contain and whether they should digitalize them or not. The only thing left is to get familiar with the FMCSA requirements and simplify the entire process even more.
Visiting fmcsaregistration.com after reading this article can be quite helpful. You can speed up the entire process and enjoy all the benefits that we mentioned in this article.