When you have an accident, the last thing you need is a plaintiff attorney named The Hammer knocking on your door and sniffing around your Driver Qualification Files.
They're looking for a reason to prove “your driver shouldn't have been there in the first place” and attack your entire safety culture.
The DOT and FMCSA collect over 30 million dollars in fines each year. The average fine is over $5,000. But you don't have to participate in this silliness.
Violations with the FMCSA lead to cost of loss, reduced productivity, and more inspections. Moreover, they point out flaws in your system that can lead to major accidents and lawsuits.
You need to understand some of the most common DQ file violations and how to avoid them.
Certain convictions, fines, penalties, etc. will disqualify an otherwise qualified person from being out on the road. Violations such as overdue child support, driving under the influence, texting while operating a CMV, and fleeing an accident scene all carry various penalties for drivers and prohibit them from driving for a certain period of time. However, you're on the hook as well. You could face serious fines for allowing this to happen.
This violation seems simple, yet it happens to companies and drivers all the time. It's too easy for violations and disqualified drivers to slip through the cracks.
Investing in a Compliance Tracking System (CTS) that integrates directly with Driver Monitoring is the only impenetrable defense you can build.
A CTS allows you to easily monitor Driver Qualification Files, track violations, upload and review driving records, and pull necessary information. Driver Monitoring alerts you when a driver’s license has been suspended for reasons you wouldn’t necessarily know about such as failure to pay child support.
This combo platter is the best practice that will prevent you from unknowingly dispatching a driver who shouldn’t be on the road and proving to The Hammer that he should go find an easier fight.
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Some of the most frequent violations stem from an issue involving the CDL. This could involve a driver having the wrong CDL for their type of vehicle, a driver having more than one CDL, or a driver not having a valid CDL at all.
If you're counting on your drivers or the state governments to handle this, you're setting yourself up for failure.
You need an easy and repeatable way to make sure all of your drivers have a proper, up-to-date CDL for the type of vehicle they're driving. The easiest way to tackle this is with a Compliance Tracking System that calls out what's required for each job. However, it also helps to have someone in charge of compliance.
You need to:
There are many qualifications a driver must meet before they can obtain a CDL and drive a CMV. These qualifications include being 21 years old (to drive interstate), physically qualified, the ability to speak and read English sufficiently to converse with the general public and read highway signs, and more. You can find these in more detail here.
First and foremost, you need a driver-centric Applicant Tracking System to ensure no driver is dispatched until every record has been captured for their job. Beyond ensuring your onboarding process is 100% compliant, it'll help you auto-filter poor-fit or unqualified candidates.
When you use proper recruiting/selection processes, you can avoid this common and costly violation.
4. Out of Date Medical Qualifications
Drivers must undergo medical examinations in order to obtain and keep their CDL. Companies must keep these records in a driver qualification file and update it anytime there are changes. These qualifications are outlined in 391.41AFPC.
Companies run into issues when they fail to update the medical file or request their drivers to do so.
As we've mentioned several times, a Compliance Tracking System will help you avoid this issue. Invest in a CTS so a DQF is never missing its proper medical records.
While DQF violations are a huge burden for compliance managers, other driver violations can be just as costly and time-consuming, if not more.
Before we get into our list, the FMCSA has a list of the 80 most common CSA violations. You can access that here.
As you might assume, moving violations are one of the most common violations associated with driving a CMV. These include, but are not limited to:
Educating drivers about these common violations is critical. Monitoring their compliance will help prevent future accidents and violations.
A DUI is a game over for a professional driver. First-time offenders have their CDL suspended for a year, which means no income for the driver and no driver for you. While you can read the entire rule 392.5 here, in a nutshell, the FMCSA and DOT dictate:
Just as drug testing is important, it's important for trucking companies to perform alcohol testing on their drivers. Random and responsible suspicion testing ultimately helps prevent accidents and keeps roads safer for everyone.
You can see answers to some of the common questions around drug and alcohol testing here: FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse: Answers to Common Questions.
There are two codes that are relevant here: 392.82 — Using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV, and 392.80(a) — Driving a CMV while texting.
Not only does using a mobile device contribute to distracted driving, but it's a violation subject to fines of up to $2,750. The fine and compliance violation is nothing compared to a catastrophic accident. Paying attention to your phone while driving has the same effect as driving impaired.
DQF and DOT violations are common, but avoidable costs of loss for companies. If you want to improve your cost of loss, become more efficient, and have fewer accidents and injuries, invest in compliance and applicant tracking systems.
Get the right processes in place now so you don't have to pay more later.
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