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What are Truck Driver Qualification and Vehicle Maintenance Files?

If you want to run a successful trucking company, you’ve got to know what files you will need to keep track of and maintain. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that several sets of files be kept on both truck drivers and vehicles.

Making sure you are hiring quality people stats with ensuring compliance with federal regulations. Whomever you hire must be in accordance with Parts 383 and 391 of the FMCSA’s list of regulations. Once you have made that determination begins with a Driver Qualification (DQ) file.

Maintaining a DQ File

The FMCSA requires trucking companies to maintain driver files for all of their truck drivers, and they lay out what should be contained within the file. So what exactly are you responsible for keeping?

Under article 391.51 of FMCSA regulations, the files must typically contain, at a bare minimum:

  • The truck driver’s application for employment
  • The truck driver’s motor vehicle record
  • The truck driver’s road test or certification
  • A photocopy of the truck driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • The background check information as performed by the company
  • A medical examiner’s certificate

A properly documented truck driver file isn’t just about meeting federal regulations. These are matters of safety and these files are one way to check and make sure your fleet has the best it can get.

Maintaining A Vehicle Maintenance File

Much like the trucker’s DQ file is how you measure the qualifications of a driver, the vehicle maintenance file ensures you know what’s going on with the trucks in your fleet.

As the FMCSA puts it, “every motor carrier shall systematically inspect, repair, and maintain or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control.”

Ensuring these are all done must work in parallel with maintaining the proper records. Per article 396.3(b) of the FMCSA regulation list fleets must have the following information in their vehicle records:

  • An identification of the vehicle. This will include the company number, make, model, serial number, year, and tire size. If the vehicle is being leased, that must also be included.
  • A means to show the due dates and nature of the various inspection and maintenance operations that are to be performed on the vehicle.
  • A full record of all inspections, repairs, and various types of maintenance, including the date they occurred and the maintenance type.
  • A full record of tests conducted on pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights on buses. The FMCSA requires these be inspected at least every 90 days.

In addition to these files, any truck driver who received a roadside inspection report, but return it to the fleet manager for inclusion in the file. Vehicle maintenance records must be kept wherever the vehicle has been kept for a period of one year. It must also be maintained for six months after the vehicle leaves the carrier’s control.

Why It’s Important

The fact is this: You could be audited at any time. Although it may seem onerous, the FMCSA requires that you stay on top of your documentation responsibilities. And to be honest, it shouldn’t be just because they want you to. It should be because it’s the right thing to do.

After all, you want to make sure your employees and vehicles are representing your fleet the right way. Both above board and in good working order.

More importantly, failure to comply with federally mandated documentation requirements comes with serious consequences. Initial dings can come with hefty fines. Repeated instances could result in an out of business sign hanging on the door.

No one wants that, obviously. So in our next installment we are going to take a look at how you can prepare yourself for an audit.



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