[Updated January 2022]
Want to print out the DQ File Checklist? Download the free PDF here: DQ File Checklist (PDF)
Think about the last time one of your drivers had an accident.
After making sure everyone is OK, you quickly go look at the Driver Qualification File to make sure everything is in order. Why? Because you know if someone gets lawyered up, you need to quickly prove everything is in compliance. Plaintiff attorneys want easy money and cases they can win. Prove to them early you're going to be a tough nut to crack, and they'll move on to an easier victim.
We have a two-part combination that can help you avoid unnecessary court appearances: this simple checklist and technology to automate the communication and document uploads from your drivers. You can save time and money while sleeping soundly at night because you know you’re in compliance.
This checklist is a summary from FMCSA 391. It’s designed to help you ensure no detail is missed when you’re creating DQ files.
Q: What is a DQF?
A: DQF stands for driver qualification file. DQFs are record-keeping requirements mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Trucking companies must meet these requirements for their employed drivers.
Q: Who needs a DQF?
A: All drivers operating the following vehicles need a DQ File:
Q: How should you store DQFs?
A: DQFs are best stored online in a secure location. Some companies keep paper copies, but this often leads to lost/missing files and extra work.
Q: What Happens if the Driver Qualification File Basics are not Maintained?
A: At the very least, you’ll be fined. At the worst, you could be out of business. It depends on the file type, how many offenses you have, and a whole host of other factors. The easiest thing to do is just make sure you’re never missing a file.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has granted an extension to drivers with expired CDLs and Medical Cards due to overwhelmed DMV offices. To obtain this extension, drivers/carriers should visit the FMCSA’s Waiver webpage.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
There are several other records you will or may have to collect during a driver’s hiring process. Some of these, such as the criminal background check, typically are stored in separate paperwork from the Driver Qualification folder in a distinct HR folder of kind.
With software systems, you can automate the folder labeling of these kinds of documents, as well as training documents, in a separate folder. Others, such as drug and alcohol test results, must be kept separate in their own specific folder per DOT rules for privacy and legal reasons.
Consult both the DOT regulations and your state’s regulations regarding some of these specific records in order to make the best decisions regarding how to organize these other record types. However you choose to organize your records, never show an auditor more than he/she asked for.
Rehired drivers (who have left the company for more than 30 days) must have a new and separate DQ File created upon their return to your company. This requires new documentation for all pre-hire records.
You may use a valid CDL in lieu of a road test. You can build on any successfully conducted Verification of Employment during the original screening process and then conduct verifications for any period since leaving your organization. In addition, drivers who left the company for more than 30 days must undergo a new drug test.
In addition to these necessary items for your driver qualification files, you will also want to have the following critical items accounted for as they can be requested during an audit:
Depending on your industry, vehicles, drivers, etc. some additional documents may be needed including:
Managing this checklist for your fleet is a taxing process. Use A-Suite Comply to automate collecting, building, and tracking your DQ files. Get back to more important tasks than paper-pushing by trying A-Suite Comply for free today!
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