You know what truck driver compliance is. You and your safety team have a painfully instilled working knowledge of the DOT and their guidelines and regulations. You’ve paid for all of the training, gone through seminars, watched corny low-budget videos to learn all the tricks of the trade. And still, even the most safety-savvy people in trucking get confused about gray areas and unclear phrasing.
You should know that it’s okay and often worth the cost to reach for some extra help. That might be as simple as acquiring A-Suite Comply to organize and double ensure you’re in compliance. Or, go an extra step and have an auditor, experienced in the bizarre adventures of DOT land, go through your records.
So how would such an auditor benefit you? Auditors like ours at AvatarFleet have seen many strange things in years of poring over DQ files. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that many times truly understanding DOT regulations requires a human touch. Here are a few of the questions we hear frequently from clients that prove this point:
I just rehired a driver that worked for me two years ago. Do I still need to keep that old application?
Yes, it is three years for any such paperwork no matter what. This happens a lot, believe it or not. So keep that old app for one more year to make three years from the date that driver left.
I hired a driver and ran his MVR beforehand like usual. But he took forever to get his CDL figured out and now four months have passed. Do I need to run a new MVR?
You should. The regulation claims it must be within 30 days of the date of hire, but in cases like this one we strongly encourage you to run another one. A lot can happen in a month or two, and you are in a lot stronger position if an accident happens if you have a newer record.
The DOT says I have to make three good faith attempts to contact previous employers of my new drivers within the 30-day window. What the heck does that mean?
A perfect example of DOT jargon that’s too ambiguous. One good faith attempt, in general, is you trying to contact one location every way you possibly can. This usually means calling them, emailing them, and sending them a letter/fax. All of that is ONE good faith effort. Do that three times, each try a couple days apart just to give the company you called a little time to gather themselves. Maybe that driver’s record is stashed in an odd place or their safety guy is on vacation.
One of my best drivers just got back from medical leave. His doctor cleared him, and he has a still valid med card for a month. Can I just use that until it expires?
NOOOO! This may seem silly, but someone tried to do this. That driver should be cleared by your company’s examiner and no one else before he gets anywhere near your trucks. Anyone who quits and returns or goes on extended leave of any kind (think six months or longer, even if not medical) should get a new physical. The DOT regulations regarding this are complicated but this simple guideline covers you for all of them.
I run my driver MVRs in early December but conduct my annual reviews after Christmas when I have more time and chances to sit down with my drivers. Is this within DOT regulation?
Technically, yes, but be careful. The rules are designed so that these two documents are run as close together as possible. You don’t want too much time to pass and an accident to happen in between that you didn’t hear about. But it does happen. Life is what it is, but you have to make the effort to do these at least within the same week, if not in two or three days. Your safety manager should understand why.