Driver Qualification and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

Hiring or leasing unqualified drivers can jeopardize the future of a trucking company. Motor carriers must ensure that all drivers of commercial motor vehicles meet the minimum qualifications specified in Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.

Driver Qualifications

 According to FMCSA regulations, a driver must meet the following minimum requirements:

• Be in good health and physically able to perform all duties of a driver

• Be at least 21 years of age

• Speak and read English well enough to converse with the general public, understand highway traffic signs and signals, respond to official questions, and be able to make legible entries on reports and records

• Be able to drive the vehicle safely

• Know how to safely load and properly block, brace and secure cargo

• Have only one valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by state of residence

• Provide an employing motor carrier with a list of all motor vehicle violations or a signed statement that the driver has not been convicted of any motor vehicle violations during the past 12 months

• Pass a driver’s road test or equivalent

• Complete an application for employment

• Possess a valid medical certificate

In addition to meeting minimum requirements, Sentry recommends that trucking firms adopt more stringent driver qualifications, including:

• Be at least 24 years old

• More frequent medical evaluations of drivers aged 65 and older

• Have at least three years of verifiable, comparable driving experience

• Have no more than four moving violations in the most recent three-year period

• Have no misdemeanor or felony convictions such as DWI/DUI, reckless driving, drag racing or leaving the scene of an accident

• Have no more than one at-fault accident in the most recent three-year period

Disqualifying Offenses
The FMCSA disqualifies drivers from operating commercial motor vehicles on public highways for the following offenses:

• Revocation, suspension, or withdrawal of an operator’s license

• Conviction or forfeiture of bond for the following criminal offenses:

– Driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol

– Driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of a disqualifying drug or other controlled substance

– Transporting or possessing a disqualifying drug or controlled substance

– Leaving the scene of an accident that involves a commercial motor vehicle

– Using a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony

– Using a commercial motor vehicle to violate an out-of-service order

FMSCA Regulations

All FMCSA-regulated employers must:

• Investigate new applicants’ accident and drug and alcohol testing history from all Department of Transportation-regulated employers who employed the applicant in the past three years

• Maintain specific, detailed information about a new driver’s safety performance history (§391.53) while drivers are employed and for three years after they leave

• Provide a driver’s new or potential employer with detailed information about that driver’s safety performance within 30 days, upon request

• Notify driver-applicants of their right to review and correct previous employer information

Driver Qualification File

If a motor carrier employs a person as a Commercial Driver’s License driver on any basis, the motor carrier must have on file the driver’s:

• Name

• Social Security number

• Identification number, type, and issuing state of motor vehicle operator’s license

• Medical certificate

• Road test and certificate

• Controlled substance test results

Regularly-Employed Driver File Checklist

The driver qualification file for each regularly-employed driver must also include:

• Driver’s Application for Employment – 49 CFR 391.21

• Inquiry to Previous Employers – three years – 49 CFR 391.23 (a) (2) & (c)

• Inquiry to State Agencies – three years – 49 CFR 391.23 (a) (1) & (b)

• Inquiry to State Agencies – annual – 49 CFR 391.25 (a) & (c)

• Annual Review of Driving Record – 49 CFR 391.25 (b) & (c)

• Annual Driver’s Certification of Violations – 49 CFR 391.27

• Driver’s Road Test Certificate or Equivalent – 49 CFR 391.31

• Medical Examinations – 49 CFR 391.43

Multiple-Employer Drivers

A motor carrier using a driver regularly employed by another motor carrier must have on file a signed written certificate that includes the driver’s name and signature, certification of the driver’s full qualifications, and expiration date of the driver’s medical examiner’s certificate. Compliance with drug and alcohol requirements must also be met.

Sentry Transportation Safety

 Kit Many of the forms required in the driver qualification file are available in the Sentry Transportation Safety Kit. The Sentry Transportation Safety Kit can be downloaded from the Safety Library on Sentry @ Your Service. Visit and select Customer Log In.

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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