Webinar Q&A: “How Carriers Can Minimize Exposure Throughout the DQ Process”

Did you have a chance to attend our recent webinar, “How Carriers Can Minimize Exposure Throughout the DQ Process”? We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time, so our presenter, Brandon Wiseman, Owner and President of Trucksafe Consulting, answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post.

If you weren’t able to join the webinar live, don’t worry – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Question: What are the security requirements for DQ files?

Answer: Except for drug/alcohol documents, the safety regulations impose no specific security requirements for driver qualification files. For drug/alcohol documents, specifically, (e.g., test results, chain of custody), the regulations require carriers to retain them in a secure location with controlled access (e.g., locked filing cabinet). 


Question: If we keep the DOT docs in a labeled DQ file and all other docs and info in a "miscellaneous" labeled file, is this secondary file discoverable?

Answer: Discoverable in litigation…generally, yes. Discoverable in the context of a DOT audit…not if the documents are outside the scope of materials that the regulations require carriers to retain. 


Question: How should accident and discipline records be maintained?

Answer: The regulations require carriers to keep an accident register listing all DOT-recordable accidents incurred over the past 3 years, in addition to accident reports. These documents should be kept in an accident file. The regulations don’t specifically require carriers to retain “discipline records” though, for various reasons, these documents are important to keep in a personnel file. 


Question: Are non-DOT recordable accidents required to be available/maintained?

Answer: Not under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Check with your state and your insurer about other retention requirements. 


Question: Does a previous safety history records request need to be performed for an applicant who never operated a CMV in the past, but will be attaining a license as an employer of your company?

Answer: No. The safety regulations only require carriers to send previous safety performance history inquiries to any DOT-regulated employer for whom the applicant worked in the 3 years prior to the application date. 


Question: Is there a 'best practice' amount of BTW training?

Answer: This varies wildly from carrier to carrier and training school to training school. 


Question: How will the DOT confirm or deny if you really tried to reach the previous employer?

Answer: In my experience, DOT investigators will first confirm whether you have documentation of attempts in the driver file. If there are no such attempts present in the file, this will be written up as a violation. From there, aggressive auditors may try to contact the previous employers to test the carrier’s assertion that the employers were unreachable. This is rare in my experience. 


Question: Is it a FMCSA requirement to obtain the driver's detailed med exam report copy or is med examiner's certificate sufficient enough?

Answer: No, the regulations only require carriers to retain the actual medical examiner’s certificate (med card). I recommend carriers not retain the long-form physicals. 


Question: Do you need to keep consent for drug test/mvr/psp ?*

Answer: Yes. 


Question: What is one of the best ways to deal with drivers being under 21 when they apply?

Answer: Carriers need to have written policies and processes in place to ensure that if they hire drivers who are not yet 21, those drivers are not permitted to operate in interstate commerce. Further, if carriers hire these drivers to operate exclusively in intrastate commerce, they need to ensure the drivers have the appropriate license to do so. 


Question: Do you recommend motor carriers to maintain employment criteria the same as the hiring criteria?

Answer: Yes, I generally advise carriers to hold existing drivers accountable to standards that are substantially similar to their hiring criteria. 


Question: What documents are required for trucks/trailers to have on file?

Answer: 49 CFR Part 396 details the documents that carriers must retain for all commercial motor vehicle equipment. Generally, these include annual inspection reports, records of systematic maintenance (e.g., work orders), vehicle details (e.g., make, model, VIN, tire size), a schedule for maintenance, roadside inspection reports, and DVIRs. 


Question: As a safety manager, I have always wondered how companies aren't held accountable for not providing a employment verification upon several requests and how companies use The Work #, but The Work # doesn't provide anything other than the position held & dates of employment without accident or drug & alcohol history which is all information that is required by DOT on an employment verification.

Answer: The regulations make it unlawful for previous DOT-employers to ignore these requests or not provide all the required information. If you don’t receive responses from a carrier you know is still in business, you can file a complaint with FMCSA and FMCSA will occasionally investigate these. 


Question: You should get at least 3 years of previous driving experience if they have that, is anything further back mandatory?

Answer: The regulations only require carriers to send previous employer inquiries to DOT-regulated employers for whom the applicant worked in the 3 years prior to the application date. For CDL drivers, specifically, the regulations require carriers to obtain a full 10-year driving/employment history on the application, but the investigations only need to go back 3 years. 


Question: When conducting the previous employment verifications do you need to attempt 3 different means of contact… such as regular mail, e-mail, fax?

Answer: No, the regulations don’t require you to use 3 separate methods of contact. That said, as best practice, we recommend you make at least 2 good faith attempts to contact the previous employers using whatever means is available. 


Question: What if the previous employer says the driver never worked for them but he already started working for us?

Answer: You should have a discussion with the driver and try to get to the bottom of the issue. If it turns out the driver lied on the application, then you’ll have to decide whether that’s grounds for termination. 


Question: Can a driver operate a CMV with a valid current medical card that hasn't been put on his license yet?

Answer: For CDL drivers, specifically, the regulations allow carriers to accept a copy of the med card as proof that the driver is physically qualified to operate, but only for 15 days after the card is issued. After the 15th day, there must be an MVR in the file showing that the new med card information has been uploaded to the appropriate state and placed on his/her record. For non-CDL drivers, med-card information does not have to appear on the motor vehicle record. 


Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings. 

Listen to Taking the Hire Road podcast, hosted by Jeremy Reymer and in collaboration with FreightWaves, for timely conversations with industry experts. For more information, or to join a live group demo, visit www.driverreach.com/livedemo


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