“You’re Letting This Man Still Drive a Truck?”



Nothing was going to stop him. The bobtail truck driver hit a car at an intersection. An off-duty policeman, noticing the erratic driving, tried to stop the driver. But for some reason he wouldn’t stop, even driving under a 12 foot bridge.

The driver, Danny Clyde Burnam, 57, did not stop at a police barricade, drawing fire from police.  At least one police round struck Burnam. Burnam then sped up, doing 60 MPH in a posted 25 MPH speed zone.

Burnam did stop after striking about a dozen vehicles, finally colliding head-on with a car with three young men inside, driving it into a building, and fatally injuring Jeffrey Oakley. Another occupant was seriously injured.

After Burnam was arrested, a police check revealed Burnam was no stranger to the law. His record showed dozens of arrests, many involving drugs and alcohol, and a number of felony convictions, including domestic violence and battery.

The name Burnam, it turns out, was another alias used by Danny Clyde Williams, who had eight social security cards at the time of his arrest.

“It’s unbelievable how somebody has a record of 55 charges and you’re letting this man still drive a truck. I can’t even process that right now.” Mother of one of the victims.

What Happened?

How does a bad player like this fall through the cracks? Who dropped the ball? Why does this happen? Did the trucking company follow the rules and regs?

Finding driving talent is difficult. Some say it’s the job. Some say it’s the pay.

Most truck drivers with at least five years of experience, however, love the job. Truck driving takes skill and acquiring any skill is the product of hard work. An increase in skill in any job is usually followed by an increase in pay. Trucking is no exception. Generally, the longer one successfully works in trucking, the more money one makes. This means keeping a clean driving record, no tickets, no collisions.

Most truck drivers . . . are average. The average driver can have a less-than-perfect driving record and may have been involved a collision or two in the past.

The sub-average driver may have had a number of tickets or was involved in several collisions. These usually get the attention of insurance underwriters, on a case-by-case basis.

Danny Clyde Williams or whatever his name really is, falls into a different category. He is a high-risk driver. The whole purpose of CSA 2010 (now simply CSA) was to identify and monitor the high-risk driver . . . if you recall.

Our whole driver-licensing system is based on the honor code, that implies drivers will honestly represent their history and driving record. The problem is, if a driver is willing to snub his nose in the face of the DOT rule book, cheat, or lie, then there’s not much any government agency can do.

The last line-of-defense is the motor carrier. Every carrier has their own system to vet new drivers. In most cases, their vetting system works. Most carriers have sufficient controls in place to catch any sub-average drivers.

In-house hiring systems can fail, when faced with hiring a high-risk driver who will employ fraudulent means to secure employment. Identifying these drivers is difficult because they are willing to lie and are good at covering their tracks.

Rogue driver

Driver to shipper, “Ain’t no little girl going to tell me how to back my truck.”
It’s all in the attitude . . .

rogue driver

Even after getting towed, the rogue driver left the parking lot by driving out over the curb . . .

Vetting the Driver

To avoid hiring or retaining the high-risk driver:

  • Use a professional background checking service when hiring. I’m always impressed as a loss control rep, when a small organization invests in these type of vetting services. They are not cheap, but neither is a bad hire . . .
  • Pay attention to the driver’s employment history. Try to talk to every previous supervisor, if possible.
  • Look for employment gaps. Is the driver hiding a job in which he was terminated for good cause?
  • Everyday is probation. Usually a string of safety incidents is telling you something about this driver. Investigate every safety incident or collision, especially if not reported by the driver.
  • Don’t skip anything. Do your required background checks. Road test the driver. Find out as much as you can about this person. Fill out all required DOT paperwork, from A-to-Z.
  • Finally, trust your instincts. If you see red flags, pick up bad vibes, or a bad attitude, get someone else’s opinion on whether or not the driver is a good candidate for your company.

Thank you for reading this.

When White on White is Code Black . . .

 light effects

White Trailer, Bright Sky

What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. Telsa

So reads the June 30th press release from Tesla Motors on the May 7 crash involving a driver of a Telsa in Autopilot mode with a tractor-trailer in Williston, Florida. Autopilot is considered semi-autonomous driving (Level 3) as control of the vehicle is shared and human intervention is required. Fully autonomous driving, without any human control, is considered Level 4

Florida is one of several states that allow  “autonomous” or “self-driving” vehicles. Williston, FL is known as the hometown of the horse “Foolish Pleasure,” winner of the 1975 Kentucky Derby.

The driver involved in the collision was Joshua D. Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, a former Navy Seal, entrepreneur and technology enthusiast. Brown named his car Tessy and posted various performance videos on YouTube, including a video of a near side collision with a small boom truck . . .

Note: the driver of the boomtruck does not signal and isn’t using his mirrors . . .

In the May 7th crash, neither the Autopilot nor Brown saw the truck. In the resulting collision, Brown was fatally injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informed Telsa it is opening a preliminary evaluation of the Autopilot system.

How Can This Happen?

It seems almost impossible that someone could not see a tractor-trailer. Yet crashes involving “invisible” trucks are not that uncommon.

One of the factors in these kind of collisions is a truck making a left turn. Savvy transportation companies discourage left turns and indoctrinate their drivers against making left turns in traffic.

Why are turns dangerous?

  • It can take up to 40 seconds for a tractor trailer to clear an intersection in a left turn.
  • Turns should never be rushed. Drivers negotiating turns need to travel at a speed slow enough that they can not only see what is coming at them, but where they are going and who might cross their path.
  • The backdrop can make a truck invisible. The most dangerous times are in twilight, before the sun appears or after it disappears. In these times, reflectors and reflective tape may not shine as well as they do in pitch darkness, especially if the backdrop is brightly lit.
  • Fog and inclement weather can hide a truck until it’s too late for another driver to see it.
  • Not all drivers follow the rules . . .  some drivers do not slow down for intersections, do not cover the brake before the intersection, or check for traffic.

In short, the majority of drivers do not drive defensively. I’ve road tested thousands of drivers. Most drivers can pass a driving test, but few can pass with flying colors.

That’s why we need to stress defensive driving. Safe Level 4 autonomous driving may be a long, long ways off.

Thank you for reading this.

Manage The Easy

Manage the easy

“Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.” — Lao Tzu

Managing the Easy

How does one ‘anticipate the difficult by managing the easy’ in the realm of motor vehicles?

One place to start is with written hiring standards. What is the minimum age and level of experience necessary for the job? How many tickets or collisions can a new driver have and still be eligible for the job? What kind of prior convictions should be disqualifying for the job? How far back should you look at their past driving history? Should any criminal convictions be disqualifying?

Answers to these questions will vary depending upon your operations. Certain driving jobs require a higher level of experience and higher standards.

Once you have your written hiring standards down, the next step is a road test. This is not always done or done correctly. “Yeah, we ride with them,” is not a road test. Coaching someone on the route is not a road test. A 100% pass rate is not a road test.

If the driver is a CDL driver, they need to take a pre-employment DOT drug screen and the results need to get back before that driver is put on the road.

Every DOT regulated driver should fill out a DOT application for employment.

A background investigation is also required. Any employment gaps should be looked at. Prior employment needs to be verified. The whole process needs to be documented.

A DOT regulated driver needs a medical certificate (DOT physical) from an approved medical examiner.

It’s a good idea to inform your new hire on how things are done at your organization by means of some sort of orientation. At a simple level, this might mean going over some basic policies and procedures:

  • Cell phones and electronic devices policy
  • Passenger policy
  • Drugs and Alcohol policy
  • Personal Use of Work Vehicles policy

Many insurance companies require written acknowledgments of these policies, signed by the employee. Don’t wait for your risk partner to nudge you in this direction . . .

Orientation might include a discussion of safety including defensive driving, load securement and what to do in the event of a collision. Do you have an employee manual? That, too, can be gone over in detail.

On the Road

Once the road, the driver paperwork does not end. A system needs to be in place to collect hours of service documentation (logs or time cards) and records of vehicle inspections or roadside inspections. 

A DOT accident file needs to be in place for DOT recordables.

Event recorders (as cameras) are now becoming standard equipment at larger fleets, because most of the time they can prove the commercial motor vehicle was not at fault.

Savvy companies have a preventable accident program in place. Each incident and collision is carefully looked at for preventability, not only during any probationary periods, but throughout the driver’s career at the organization.

Safety can be emphasized and reinforced with safety reward programs and safety incentives. 

It’s the little things that can make a big difference in safety. The little things make managing the difficult become easy . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Top Driver Qualification FAQs . . .

in control

They did it, again!

What they did was present another information-jammed-packed presentation—

Yesterday, Kathy Close and Daren Hansen of J.J. Keller presented a webinar called, Top Driver Qualification FAQs  The who, what, when, and where of DQ file management.

Here are a few highlights . . .

If someone drives a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), then they need to be qualified. And if they need to be qualified — with few exceptions — the qualifications need to be documented in a DQ file.

This could include . . .

  • Hostler truck drivers (Yard spotters)
  • Temps/seasonal drivers
  • Contract drivers
  • Owner/operators
  • Supervisors/managers
  • Business owners/principals
  • Any CMV driver

Did we miss anyone?

“If they are Behind-The-Wheel (BTW), then they are a driver.” Kathy Close, Transportation Publishing editor.

What has to be in the DQ File?

  • DOT Application for Employment
  • Motor Vehicle Record (MVR)
  • Safety Performance History
  • Certificate or Road Test/CDL
  • Medical Card/National Registry verification
  • Annual Driver’s List of Convictions/Annual Review

JJ Keller can assist motor carriers in their DQ file needs in several ways.

Some may prefer to download various forms available on federal and state websites. I will caution you these forms may not always be current or the latest form version. Download at your own risk.

What if something is missing in a DQ File or on a form?

Suppose you downloaded a free form from somewhere but are missing a page or two? Now what?

Kathy and Daren gave four golden rules of DQ File compliance . . .

  • Acknowledge the error.
  • Show a good-faith effort to comply.
  • Never back-date documents (falsify)
  • Correct your process/procedures.

Goofs occasionally happen to the very best motor carriers. Forms are not filled out. Forms are incomplete. Follow-ups are not done. Mistakes are made . . .

Okay, a paperwork mistake was made. Now what?

One consideration is the amount of time that has elapsed since the error. But if it was recent, it should be corrected.

Errors in DQ File recordkeeping should never be corrected by anything that could be considered fraudulent.

Do not attempt to hide the error. Document what was discovered and what, if anything, was done to correct it.

Then, the most important part, is to initiate a correction to your process and procedures so something like this does not happen again or is not likely to happen again. This might be in the form of a new checklist, a self-audit review or some other form of administrative control that works best in your particular operation.

Other DQ File Considerations

• Keep the file organized.

Things have a way of creeping into the DQ file. In some respects it’s a lot like a personnel file.

But it is not a personnel file, HR file, employment file or what-have-you file. The DQ file should not serve as a collection point for such things as payroll garnishments, court documents, accident reports, and the like. Only keep the information that is required to be in the file, nothing more and nothing less.

Any optional records in the DQ Files can and will be audited for violations if presented to auditors.

• Keep the file secure, if . . .

If the DQ File is keep together with secure information as Drug and Alcohol testing results or background investigation results, then the file must be kept secure (under lock and key, with authorized access only).

Tip: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations list minimum retention periods.

Kathy and Daren covered much more in their presentation, including a question and answer segment at the end. I appreciate their help in keeping folks informed of the many regulatory nuances and thank JJ Keller & Associates Inc for sponsoring the webinar.

Thank you for reading this.

The DOT Road Test (Part 4)

Aairflow bullet truckCommon Truck Driver Road Test Errors

A simple definition of driving is the control and operation of a motor vehicle. But a truck driver road test goes beyond mere driving or it would end in the parking lot. A good road test should assess the driver on their defensive driving skills.

ANSI/ASSE Z15.1, defines defensive driving skills as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”

Defensive driving is really about having a positive attitude toward driving.

The road test needs to be standardized— meaning everyone takes the same test under the same conditions and are tested in the same way. It should not matter which examiner conducts the road test.

Serious Errors

  • Speeding
  • Driver cannot control the vehicle in traffic
  • Failure to follow traffic control devices as signs or traffic lights
  • Failure to yield right of way
  • Driver becomes involved in an collision during the test.
  • Driver is confused.

Common Errors

  • Failure to check mirrors (for at least 1 full second)
  • Failure to conduct traffic checks at intersections
  • Failure to check for trains at rail crossings.
  • Failure to look ahead when driving
  • Improper turn
  • improper lane change
  • Failure to signal intentions, or improper use of signals
  • Tunnel vision
  • Not aware of warning signs when asked
  • Running over curbs or solid marker lines
  • Not covering the brake when appropiate to do so

Automatic Failures

  • Failure to wear safety belt (seat belt)
  • Running lights or stop signs
  • Loss of control
  • Collisions

Invest in Safety

A good road test could result in a fair percentage of failures. But this is what insurance companies mean when they say motor carriers need to invest in safety. A good road test is a solid investment. Top companies willingly make that investment. This is one of the most important things that the safety-elite companies do that makes them elite.

Too many organizations do not road test their drivers. Don’t be one of them. The stakes are too high.

If you have interstate drivers of vehicles between 10,001 pounds and 20,001 pounds GVWR, then all drivers must be road tested per federal regulations.

If your organization does not have adequate resources to conduct a road test, then an acceptable option is to have a third-party conduct the road test for you. Perhaps you have a local truck driving school nearby, or can “borrow” the safety manager from a local company to run the test.

More and more doctors are ordering road tests before releasing injured drivers back to work. They see the benefits of another opinion.

One company I consulted with has a retired driver who does road test check rides with each of their drivers, at least once a year. He then points out to them various areas in which they can become aware of bad habits and improve their driving. This is an example of investing in pro-active safety.

If you need help in setting up road-testing for your drivers, one person to check out is your insurance agent or broker. Many times they may have resources available or can tap into their carrier’s loss control section for additional resources or advice, at no cost to you.

Investing in safety with a solid road testing program can not only result in a safer organization and lower insurance premiums, but higher productivity and other intangible benefits.

This ends the four part series on the DOT Road Test.

Thank you for reading this.

More . . . Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3.

The DOT Road Test (Part 3)

Volvo 2040

Driver safety performance is as important as vehicle performance. A driver performance test can help determine safe driver performance.

The Pre-trip Inspection

The road test should start with a pre-trip inspection. A pre-trip inspection is required under §391.31(c)(1).

The driver-applicant should explain what he or she is observing and what specific vehicle or component checks (s)he is conducting. The applicant should explain what defects/faults he or she is looking for during the pre-trip. This portion of the test may take up to 30 to 45 minutes or longer, depending on the type and configuration of the vehicle.

Range Portion

Before the road portion, the applicant should demonstrate the following skills: steering, stopping, shifting and backing (straight and 90 degree angle) and, if the equipment he/she will drive includes a combination unit – coupling and uncoupling of the combo-unit (per §391.31(c)(2)).  Allow at least 20 minutes for a “range” portion.

A vehicle control test area of at least 200 feet by 300 feet in size is required, the bigger the better. Driver candidates can be tested with the following maneuvers:

(1) Forward Stop: Pull the vehicle forward through a straight alley and then stop the vehicle so that the front bumper is within 2 feet of the forward stop line.

(2) Straight Line Backing. Back the vehicle through a straight alley and then stop the vehicle so that the front bumper is within 2 feet of the stop line.

(3) Right Turn. Drive the vehicle forward approximately 30–50 feet, and then turn the vehicle right around a cone or other point. Bring the rear of the vehicle within 6–12 inches from the cone without touching it.

(4) Alley Dock. Pull the vehicle forward past the alley, keeping the alley entrance on the left. Back in a 45 degree curve into the alley without touching the sides, and stop the rear of the vehicle within 2 feet of the stop line at the rear of the alley.

The Range is usually scored on a point system, with points given or taken away for hitting cones, crossing lines, or falling short of where the vehicle needs to be.

Why Do a Range Test?

The answer is safety. A range can show if the driver has basic control of the vehicle. A range helps the driver to become familiar with the vehicle, if the vehicle and/or its controls are new to the driver. If a driver does really badly on the range, then for reason of safety, the test needs to end. The driver’s proficiency in the parking lot (range) should be adequate enough to determine that the applicant will drive safely during the on-road portion of the test.

The Road Test *

The road portion should be on a predetermined route of in-traffic driving.

Tip: Have at least two routes available so that the alternate route is available if construction or traffic prevents using the original route.

On the route be sure to include:

Four left-hand and four right-hand turns: turns at traffic lights, stop signs, and uncontrolled intersections. The turns should range from easy to somewhat difficult for a heavy vehicle. Try to include a mixture of types of intersections so that they vary in complexity.

A straight section of urban business streets. The section should be 1 to 2 miles long. It should contain through intersections, and intersections with traffic lights, and have moderate traffic density. Try to get a section where the driver can make lane changes somewhere along the route.

Two through intersections, and two intersections where a stop has to be made. If possible, these intersections should be included in the urban section.

Two railway crossings. Try to get at least one uncontrolled crossing. The crossing should have enough sight distance to determine if the driver makes head search movements when approaching each crossing. The driver’s attempt to look left and right down the track will often be the only way to tell if the driver noticed the crossing. If the test area does not have any railway crossings, you may simulate this exercise.

Two curves, one to the left and one to the right. Try to get curves tight enough to produce noticeable offtracking on a tractor-trailer.

A two-lane rural or semi-rural road. This section should be about 2 miles long. If there is no rural road near the motor pool, an industrial street with few entrances and a higher speed limit is a good substitute. An undeveloped suburban road is also a good substitute. In general, use any road that has characteristics similar to a rural road.

A section of expressway. The section should start with a conventional ramp entrance and end with a conventional ramp exit. The section should be long enough for a heavy vehicle to make two lane changes during the section. A section of highway can be used if there is no expressway available.

A downgrade. The grade should be steep enough and long enough to require gearing down and braking. A steep short hill is the next best choice if a long grade cannot be found. If the area does not have any steep grades, simulate this exercise.

An upgrade. The grade should be steep enough and long enough to require gear changing to maintain speed. A steep short hill is the next best choice if a long grade cannot be found. Use the same grade for both the downgrade and the upgrade if it is hard to find steep grades in the area.

A downgrade for stopping. This is a grade where a vehicle can safely stop (or pull off) and park for a minute or so. The grade only needs to be steep enough to cause a vehicle to roll if the driver does not park properly. If the area does not have any steep grades, simulate this exercise.

An upgrade for stopping. This is another grade where a vehicle can safely stop and park for a minute or so. If necessary, use the same grade as for the downgrade stop.

One underpass or low clearance, and one bridge. The underpass should have a posted clearance height. The bridge should have a posted weight limit. If there are no underpasses or bridges with posted limits, use ones that do not have posted limits. If necessary, substitute a bridge for an underpass, or an underpass for a bridge. If there are no low clearances or bridges, look for places that have signs a heavy vehicle driver should see. Examples of such signs are: “No Commercial Vehicles after 11:00 PM,” or “Bridge with 10 Ton Weight Limit in 5 Miles.” b.

When designing a route, try to get all of the specified maneuvers into the route. If there is no ideal example for a maneuver, find the closest substitute.

There is no minimum length for a route and no minimum amount of time that a route must take. A route is acceptable whenever it has all the specified maneuvers.

At the End of The Road Test

Be prepared to give the driver positive feedback followed by any areas that need to be improved. If the driver is hired, make note of any weak spots for later refresher training. A signed copy (by both examiner and applicant) of the road test and certificate of completion must be kept in the Qualification File. A Certificate of Road Test Completion should also be given to the applicant.

Thank you for reading this.

*Source: AR 600–55, which was modeled from current U.S. transportation practices.

More: The DOT Road Test (Part 1) 

           The DOT Road Test (Part 2)

The DOT Road Test (Part 2)


The purpose of the road test is to evaluate the driver’s ability to drive safely

The Driver’s Road Test

One key requirement and responsibility of an employer is for their CMV driver to pass a driver’s road test or equivalent.

While the regulations permit a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holder not to be road tested, there are a number of reasons this step should never be skipped.

  • The driver may lack experience in the type of vehicle driven. For example, a driver may have used his Class A CDL to drive a hot-shot combination and has little or no experience in driving a tractor-trailer.
  •  The driver may simply have no driving experience. For example, some foreign nationals may have had a drive’s license in their country, but have had little actual lifetime driving experience.
  • The driver’s skills may be stale, Perhaps he or she was unemployed or on workman’s comp and has not driven for a long while. For larger trucks, not driving more than six months can be a long time, and a driver could need a refresher course to get back into commercial driving.
  • The driver may have injured himself since his last DOT physical and is not physically able to drive.

The list goes on. I can cite example after example of drivers who should have never been allowed to drive, but were able to fall through cracks in the system: drivers with missing limbs, color blindness, hard of hearing, suffering from psychosis, etc.

It is always a best business practice to road test every new hire using a standardized checklist or rating form. Most insurance companies expect you are doing this, as well.

Studies Show . . .

Research by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) on Driver Selection Tests & Measurements has found top motor carriers use multiple driver selection tools, with emphasis on driver performance testing of every applicant. TRB’s case studies included companies using:

  • Cutting-edge procedures as a driving simulator with an experienced safety professional monitoring the driver’s performance.
  • A standardized, 3-hour driving road and range test, that can result in up to a 50% failure rate.
  • Driver observations by no less than three managers, who each take notes and write up their observations, concerns, and conclusions.

“Driving is a habit. People cannot change their habits,
even when they are being observed.” A person can mask
driving habits for 10 minutes or so, but not longer. TRB Report


Road testing of drivers is not the only driver selection tool, but it is often one of the main selection tools. Other related best practices dictate that motor carriers should:

  • Inform driver candidates as much as possible about their driver requirements and any specific hiring procedures.
  • Maintain a detailed assessment file for each driver.
  • Requiring a probationary period for new hires.
  • Establish written hiring standards, that include standardized road testing.

Who you decide to bring on board to operate one of your vehicles is one of the most important business decisions you ever will make.

Thank you for reading this.

Forms . . . Record of Road Testing (MODOT)

The DOT Road Test (Part 1)

Peterbilt and 53' Great Dane

Testing 1-2-3-4

In the age of everyone-gets-a-gold-star (or two, for bothering to show up), does the word test have a place anymore?

It does in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Part 391.31, simply titled ‘Road Test.’

Best in class employers conduct a driver performance test for every Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver they hire. But it doesn’t end there.

Top employers not only road test new driver candidates but conduct driver check rides from time to time or whenever drivers are having safety performance issues. Top companies road-test their drivers every year or so for coaching purposes – or as part of their post-accident policy.


The purpose of the road test is to evaluate the driver’s ability to drive safely. Safe operations are determined by a driver’s attitude as much as by his or her mechanical driving skills.

Who should conduct the Road Test?

Any competent driver who is qualified with experience in the type of vehicle being driven may conduct a road test. The examiner needs to be a thoroughly qualified operator. Generally this would be your most senior driver. Sometimes trucking companies use their mechanic to conduct road tests. If so, the mechanic should have some actual driving experience.

The test shall be given by a person who is competent to evaluate and determine whether the person who takes the test has demonstrated that he/she is capable of operating the commercial motor vehicle, and associated equipment, that the motor carrier intends to assign him/her.

§ 391.31 (b)

This section says you cannot test yourself.

Tip 1: For non-CDL type vehicles, owners and managers can be given a road test by an employee-driver.

Tip 2: The same person should administer all road tests in the same way, on the same route.

Tip 3: The road test may be conducted before administering the DOT pre-employment drug screen.After receiving results of the drug test and after a job-offer, the DOT physical can be administered.

If a motor carrier cannot find someone within the organization, they may choose someone from outside of the organization to conduct the road test. Additionally:

  • The examiner needs to be familiar with the road test route and the testing procedures.
  • The examiner needs to practice administering the test to a regular licensed driver qualified on that type vehicle.

What Should the Road Test Cover?

Any well-administered road test should cover the driver’s/applicant’s technical and physical skills associated with driving a commercial vehicle as well as the driver’s/applicant’s attitude while driving.

The regulations specify eight areas to be tested, depending on the type of vehicle, including:

  1. Pre-trip inspection.
  2. Hooking/unhooking a trailer.
  3. Placing the CMV in operation.
  4. Use of the CMV’s controls and emergency equipment.
  5. Operating the CMV in traffic and while passing other motor vehicles.
  6. Turning the CMV.
  7. Braking and slowing the CMV by means other than braking, and
  8. Backing and parking the commercial motor vehicle.

These are the minimum areas on which a driver is to be tested.

Continued in the next blog . . .

Thank you for reading this.

File Under . . . Driver Hiring Standards Undone

Trapped It was a violent crash. Anytime a vehicle is caught between two trucks it never turns out good.

The CDL driver said he does not know what happened. The driver was convicted of driving without a license, and allegedly has two drug charges pending against him.

An investigation by WRAL found the CDL driver had eight driving-related violations since 2008, but seven were dismissed.

The owner of the truck said the driver was his cousin, had a CDL and  passed an insurance background check.  He expressed shock at his cousin’s bad driving record.

Lessons Learned

Many times in the course of a loss control inspection, I will ask small fleet owners if they have driver hiring standards. They say they sure do. When pressed for details, however, they admit their standards are not in writing, they are not sure of the exact details and, in any case, they rely on their insurance company for the yea or nay before hiring.

When driver turnover is low, this might not be that unusual. It seems like a hassle to put down some of your expectations for  a new driver, especially when you have never had any problems before. Besides, who doesn’t have enough paperwork to do as it is?

This type of — lets say — complacent attitude is being noted today by insurance companies. When you don’t know what you are looking for in a driver, how will you know that you have hired the right one?

And should your insurance company act as your de facto HR screener? They are going to reject obviously risky drivers, but as the above situation shows, when driving violations are dismissed, occasionally bad drivers are hired.

Put It in Writing . . .

A driver hiring standard looks something like this:

  • The minimum age for a driver: usually 23-25, but younger may be acceptable.
  • The minimum past driving time or experience: 1 to 3 years. While this is not a DOT requirement (the driver must be qualified by reason of experience or training), more experience gives a candidate a better track record.
  • Minimum education: high school diploma or GED. Note research has found that smarter drivers have the most longevity on the job. Always hire smart.
  • Training standards. Has the driver attended a professional school appropriate for the class of license and vehicle they will be driving? Has the driven taken (or will the driver be given) any defensive driving training?
  • Motor Vehicle Record (MVR): no more than 1 moving violation in 2 years or no more than 2 violations in 5 years. Some organizations use a flexible standard, looking for a pattern and seriousness of the violation. Others use the insurance company point system: such as a maximum of 4 points in 3 years. Serious moving violation include: Speed at or in excess if 15MPH;     Running Red Light/Stop Sign or other traffic control device; Following Too Closely; Erratic/Unsafe Lane Change; Unsafe Driving. Other serious offenses include: Fleeing a police officer; Racing on a public highway; Careless or reckless driving; Leaving the scene of an accident; DUI/DWI listed on MVR.
  • Collisions: The average driver has one collision about every five years. If a driver has had several at-fault accidents in the most recent three-year period, the odds are that the driver will have more. It is recommended by some safety experts that a maximum of one at-fault accident ever be accepted. Tip: Accidents/collisions appearing on the MVR can be supported with a copy of a police report or other official documents before hiring.
  • Disqualifying factors: violent crime, felony, DUI (7 – 10 years back maximum), some go back over the driver’s lifetime.
  • Work History: This may vary by sector, but a candidate with a history of frequent job changes may continue the pattern.

Be innovative in selecting the driver hiring standards that make sense for you. The efforts you put into it are well worth it to your organization.

Thank you for reading this.

Crash Rates Are More Than 5 Times for Stubborn Apnea Truck Drivers (Who Don’t Use Device)


Truck drivers who ignore their sleep apnea treatment have a five times higher preventable crash rate than drivers without apnea, says a new study in Sleep journal.

A 2002 study found that up to 28.1% of heavy truck drivers have mild, moderate or severe sleep apnea, according to the the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). the most common of several types of sleep disorders, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

This new study is called “Non-Adherence with Employer-Mandated Sleep Apnea Treatment and Increased Risk of Serious Truck Crashes,” Sleep, March 21, 2016. Lead author is Stephen V. Burks, Professor of Economics and Management at the University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM).

In this study 1613 drivers at Schneider National, who were diagnosed with sleep apnea, were prescribed positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy and provided with a self-adjusting CPAP machine. Results of the study were compared to a control group of the same number of drivers.

“We found that truck drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are at dramatically greater risk of serious, preventable truck crashes, consistent with the greatly increased risk of motor vehicle crashes among automobile drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea,” said study co-author Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Drivers with sleep apnea who did not follow therapy eventually were terminated after given the another chance and choice to stick to the treatment.

Facts about Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a treatable sleep disorder.

“An apnea is defined as complete or near cessation of airflow for a minimum of 10 sec with or without associated oxygen destaturation and sleep fragmentation.” Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine 5th ed.

OSA, if untreated, can lead to daytime sleepiness and increases fall-asleep-crash risk.

Over 10% of truck drivers have moderate to severe OSA.

This high prevalence of OSA in truck drivers is unsurprising, as they tend to be middle-aged, male, and obese, according to a paper cited by the NCBI.

OSA remains largely undiagnosed in commercial truck drivers.

Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test can help diagnose the condition.  U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Polysomnography (PSG) aka sleep study or Sleep Lab (technologist attended), is only accurate test, know as the gold standard, as the Portable monitoring study while a less costly alternative method is not as accurate.

The Problem(s)

Several people I have spoken who were prescribed CPAP machines don’t use them because they don’t like the mask. Some don’t the feel of the mask or don’t like getting wrapped up in the hose at night. Older machines tended to be loud at night. Truck driver Christopher Hill says it’s no big deal.

Another problem is cost. Sleep studies can run into thousands of dollars and are generally an out-of-pocket expense as sleep studies are not covered by health insurance. The CPAP machine runs into hundreds of dollars and the mask and head-straps have to be replaced several times a year. As these items are federally regulated medical devices, nothing is ever cheap.

Public law 113-45, signed into law on October 15, 2014, requires  the FMCSA to enact rules “if the agency decides to establish requirements for commercial truckers to address certain sleep disorders among drivers.”

In January 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a Bulletin on the physical qualification requirements for drivers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  The American Trucking Association stated this was in error as it contained no specific guidelines and violated the spirit of PL 113-45 which requires an objective cost-benefits analysis.

On Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 the FMCSA opened a ninety day period for public comments on sleep apnea.

While we can expect FMCSA rulemaking in the future, the controversy about truck drivers and sleep apnea will probably not end there.

Is there a problem with truck drivers with sleep apnea? If so, who should make that determination?

Thank you for reading this.

Background Checks Matter


runaway truckDriver and Company Being Sued

Both the driver of runaway truck that careened through a busy Austin, TX intersection and his company are being sued by the family of a 19 year-old woman who was T-boned in the crash according to KXAN.

The lawsuit alleges that not only was the driver negligent in his control and operation of the vehicle, but his employer was negligent for hiring a driver with a criminal record who had several convictions for ranging from DUI, driving without a valid license to battery.

“Bottom line is that truck should not have been on the road and that driver should not have been driving that vehicle.” Justin McMinn, Esq.

KXAN  was not able to reach the parties named in the lawsuit.

When Do Background Checks Matter?

Anyone who employs a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver must “qualify” that driver under Parts 383 and 391 of the FMCSRs and that includes a background investigation (Safety Performance History), a Road Test conducted by your organization, or a Photocopy of a CDL in lieu of road test, a Medical examiner’s certificate or proof of current medical certification as shown on the MVR.

This is the minimum a driver employer needs to do. There is also an implicit obligation to to develop one’s own internal hiring standards. In some cases that means not hiring someone with a bad driving record. In other cases, if your organization often goes to Canada, it means not hiring someone with a criminal or perhaps even an arrest record. In any case, it means carefully screening and vetting and qualifying any potential drivers.

Have a Written Driver Hiring Standard

Every organization should have a written driver hiring standard or hiring criteria. Sometimes driver hiring is done infrequently (once a year or less often) or done rarely, so it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

I find smaller organizations tend to even skip this step and rely on their insurance company and their rule book to vet their drivers. This may not always be a good idea for a number of reasons. Your risk-partner may error on the side of caution and you may lose a driver who might work for you. This can happen when an insurance company may have set a minimum driving age of X years (21, 23, 25, etc.) and the driver in question is near (less than a year or so from) that age. Then it might be a good idea to talk with the underwriter and present your case why this driver is acceptable to you. You may find that in the case of an individual driver, age might not be that big of a deal. You will never know unless you ask . . .

Talk to Former Employers

In addition to written hiring standards, potential employers need to talk to the prior employers. As Mike Coffey, a background specialist,  of Imperative Information Group recommends, ask the prior employer, among other questions, if they would rehire the driver in question. Again, you will never know unless you ask . . .

In the final analysis, trying to sort out all of these things in a legal venue is not the best way to find out what could have been done differently. Be proactive. By following a few of these proven pointers you can avoid hiring drivers who keep having bad luck.

Thank you for reading this.

John Taratuta is a Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

DOT Driver Qualification and Background Checks

Mike Coffey, SPHR

It’s Coffey Time

Not that coffee. Yesterday, Mr. Mike Coffey held his webinar on “DOT Driver Qualifications and Background Checks”

Mike is the president of Imperative Information Group and conducts professional background checks on CDL and CMV drivers for small to medium sized businesses and motor carriers.

Why Background Checks are Important

Your name is on the side of the truck. Any wild or crazy driving reflects badly on you and the other folks you work with and work for. A bad hire can destroy a business.  A bad hire can take down a lot of people with him. Lawsuits, fines, higher insurance are a few of the consequences of a bad hire.

Know the Regulations

To know the regulations, know how a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is defined:
Parts 382 and 383 — apply to CDL drivers
Parts 390 and 391 — apply to non-CDL drivers (everyone).

Know what a Safety-sensitive function is under Part 382.107. Say a CDL driver fails a DOT drug test and you forbid him from driving. The fact is, until the driver is cleared by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), he has no business being around trucks, performing Safety-sensitive functions. Even trucks between 10,001 GVWR and 26,001 GVWR.

Driver Applications: The Three Imperatives

  • The app must be furnished by the motor carrier.
  • The app must be completed by the applicant/ driver.
  • The app must be signed by the driver.

Part 391.21 has a number of driver application requirements that must be followed.

Top Tip: All regulated drivers (even non-CDL) must list all of their previous regulated employers.

Top Tip: CDL drivers should provide a complete employment history for the last 10 years, explaining any periods of unemployment.

Part 391.23(a.) Investigation and inquiries.

Top Tip: First start with a CDLIS check — then get MVRs from respective, required states.

(Some experts even recommend doing CDLIS searches at every annual review.)

Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) is a nationwide computer system that shows every license your driver has held in the past three years. From there, ordering required Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) is easy.

Top Tip: Ask previous employers questions like:

  • Is the drive eligible for rehire?

  • Has the driver ever acted in a threatening or coercive manner?

  • Has the driver ever acted in an unsafe manner?

Know the requirements of the General Confidentiality Rule (49 CFR 40.321)

Top Tip: Get specific written consent from the driver. A mistake is using blanket forms where a driver signs off on a form and it is copied and sent to all previous employers.


49 CFR 40.25 (d) — If feasible, you must obtain and review this information before the employee first performs safety-sensitive functions. If this is not feasible, you must obtain and review the information as soon as possible. However, you must not permit the employee to perform safety-sensitive functions after 30 days from the date on which the employee first performed safety-sensitive functions, unless you have obtained or made and documented a good faith effort to obtain this information.

This means at least two or three documented attempts within the first 30 days of hire.

Mike detailed many other requirements in qualifying new DOT drivers and listed numerous traps and pitfalls.

Here is previous webinar from 2015:

Thank you for reading this.



John Taratuta is a trucking safety advocate and Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

Totally Out of Control

 First responders cover their ears as injured cattle are shot inside an overturned semi cab pulling a cattle trailer that crashed on Highway 126 near Cedar Flat Road east of Springfield. (Brian Davies/The Register-Guard)Everything rises and falls on leadership. John Maxwell

Totally Out of Control

The cattle truck driver who crashed on Highway 126 on Tuesday, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen cows, was speeding when he failed to negotiate a curve, authorities said Wednesday.

He was cited for failing to drive within a lane, state police said.

According to court records, he has had a number of driving violations during the last decade. He twice was convicted of speeding in 2011, which resulted in the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspending his license.

In August, a man filed a claim against . . . him and his employer (at the time), alleging damages when he was hit by their truck. The lawsuit seeks at least $100,000.

The truck with trailer turned onto its side after shearing a tree and striking a power pole, trapping and killing a number of cattle in Tuesday’s crash. A crew had to remove downed power lines at the crash scene.

Additionally, a state police trooper fatally shot 12 of the injured cows that could not be saved. (The Register-Guard)

 Safety is a Choice

Why anyone would hire a driver with a bad driving record, a previous license suspension, and who brought grief to himself and his previous employer?

Did the driver lie about his driving history or withhold information?

Did the cattle hauler (yes – this was a cattle-hauler, livestock hauling is their specialty) properly vet the driver? Did they do a background check? Do they have hiring standards or a safety program in place?

What went wrong?

I have the utmost respect for cattle-haulers. It’s a tough and thankless job and requires a lot of driving skill and finesse. A cattle-hauler has to be a very good driver, a really special person.

But a tougher job is that of the first responders that have to clean up the messes that — in many cases — should have never happened. Many first-responders are volunteers. They only want to help their communities. But they are the ones who have to deal with the carnage, broken bodies, and the many horrors and aftermaths of the bad drivers and employers who made bad choices.

We can do better than this . . . We have to.

Thank you for reading this.

 Related: Driver Behaviors as Predictors of Crashes

A Simple DOT File Organization System

Introducing the Progressive Reporting Agency

Half of any task is planning and organization. Chris Vernon, who recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan as an Engineer Company Commander, took some of his organizational skills from his business and military experiences to form the Progressive Reporting Agency.

Progressive Reporting Agency is a DOT compliance service bureau based in Midvale, UT, dedicated to helping companies with DOT regulated trucks and drivers.

Organized for Success

One of their products is an Audit Assistance Package consisting of a series of nine folders. Each folder has a checklist printed on the jacket as to what the folder must contain. Additional forms are available for download.

Progressive’s 9 Folder system:
1. General Company Documents
2. Insurance
3. Accident Register
4. Driver Qualification (DQ) File
5. Drug &Alcohol Testing
6. Record of Duty Status-RODS (Log Books)
7. Maintenance – Tractor
8. Maintenance – Trailer
9. Maintenance Plan

General file jacket

“DOT Audit preparation is critical.  We have a proven system that is an easy to follow DOT Audit Checklist that has nine folders, including a folder with everything you need for your driver qualification files, helping ensure you have all the required documentation organized and ready for your DOT Safety Audit.”  Progressive Reporting Agency

Over the years in visiting and talking to transportation business owners or their staff, I have seen literally an “all or nothing” attitude with their DOT paperwork. Getting organized is the first step to getting it done.

It’s not only the DOT that may want to see your files and paperwork. Insurance companies also have a right to inspect your files as well . . .

For more information:

Progressive Reporting Agency
7304 S 300 W, Ste 201
Midvale, UT 84047
Email info@progressivereporting.com

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author or a guarantee of any specific results. This blog is for informational purposes only. Thank you. 


Essential Driver Application Requirements

Driver application

One of the most problematic areas of DOT compliance, next to hours of service and drug and alcohol testing, are driver applications (Part 391.21). Driver applications may be audited by state and federal agencies and surveyed by insurance companies. Missing information, missing pages, or blank lines can lead to DOT write-ups, fines, and a request (more like an order) from the DOT to fix the mess. Here are some common DOT “application for employment” error areas to avoid.

Driver Application— Common Error Checklist

• Has the applicant listed his/her address for at least the last three years?
• Does it show an out-of-state address? If yes— then this means that the carrier needs to get the out-of-state Motor Vehicle Record (MVR), for each state listed.

• Has the applicant listed at least 3 years of past employment, if new to driving as a job, or if the driver has obtained a recent CDL?

• Has the applicant listed at least 10 years of employment if he or she had a CDL over 3 years ago?

Has the applicant explained any gaps in employment in excess of one month?

• Has the applicant answered YES or NO to each question for every job:
» Was this job subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?
» Were you subject to drug and alcohol testing under DOT rules?

Note: These questions apply to both interstate and intrastate drivers.

(It may help to ask the applicant if they even understand and know what these questions mean. In many instances the applicant does not know if they were subject to DOT regulations in their previous job(s) and will check off they were, when in reality were not or were DOT exempt.)

• Has the applicant listed a date of birth?

• Has the applicant answered BOTH of the following questions:
» Have you ever been denied a license, permit or privilege to operate a motor vehicle?
» Has any license, permit or privilege ever been suspended or revoked?
If the answer to either of the above questions is yes, has the applicant given details?

The applicant needs to fully answer each section:

• Are there any “blank” answers?. If an answer is “none,” then the applicant must write “NONE.” (Not leave it blank or NA)

Top Tip: Have a statement on the application: “Every question must be answered. If the answer is “none,” then write “None,” not N/A.”

Has the applicant SIGNED and DATED the application?

Was the application completed by the applicant? The applicant, not a friend or family member, must fill out the application— in his own handwriting.

Are the Organization’s/Company’s Name and Address on the application??

The DOT driver application is an important document that forms the basis of the background investigation of the driver. Check your driver applications for these common errors. Don’t accept improperly filled out applications.

Applicants should be aware that improperly filled out applications potentially can lead to federal charges.

Thank you for reading this. Have a safe day. If you find this helpful, please pass this along.

J Taratuta

John Taratuta is an independent Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599 Twitter @part380com

Driver Accident Histories


History repeats itself, goes the old saying.

One history every employer with drivers needs to study is their drivers’ driving history, both at the time of hire and during the annual review. This history is contained in a driver’s “abstract” or motor vehicle record (MVR).

TIP: Review the MVR first to find out if their driving history is acceptable.

Not every employer investigates their drivers MVRs. Sometimes the employer believes this step is not necessary because they feel they know the driver or that having proof of a license is proof enough they can drive. But in not doing so, employers are ignoring a good driver management tool.

The Science of Driver Selection

One major study by the California DMV of 160,000 randomly selected drivers has found that history indeed can repeat itself to a certain extent. It found that when looking over the past three years of data, compared to a driver who has had no accidents, a driver with one or more accidents has a higher likelihood of a future accident in the next three years. To wit:

  • A driver with one accident is 2 times as likely to have a future accident.
  • A driver with two accidents is 2.3 times as likely to have a future accident.
  • A driver with three accidents is 3.2 times as likely to have a future accident.
  • A driver with four accidents is 4 times as likely to have a future accident.

Traffic Violation History
Drivers who have had one or more traffic violations in the last three years, when compared to a driver with no traffic violations, are also more likely to have a future accident:

  • A driver with one conviction is 1.7 times as likely to have a future accident.
  • A driver with two convictions is 2.2 times as likely to have a future accident.
  • A driver with three convictions is 2.6 times as likely to have a future accident.
  • A driver with four convictions is 3.1 times as likely to have a future accident.

Keep in mind, this study is about vast groups of drivers and is not predictive about individual drivers. Other future crash indicators beside an increased prior citation frequency or increased prior accident frequency cited by this study include:

  • Being young
  • Being male
  • Having one or more Physical &Mental (P&M) conditions on record
  • Having one or more driver license restrictions on record
  • A higher median income within a ZIP-Code area, or
  • Having a commercial driver license (which is mostly held by high-mileage professional drivers).

Principles of Evaluating MVRs

There are several principles that organizations employing best practices adhere to in evaluating a MVR:

  1. Frequency of accidents/traffic citations is more significant than their severity.
  2. A recent history of of accidents/traffic citations is more significant than an older history.

In addition to the above future crash indicators an organization could consider these additional risk factors:

Driving experience and the type of equipment
Number of jobs held
Was the driver terminated or did he resign?
Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) roadside violations

Typical hiring disqualifiers in the last three years include:

  • Two Accidents
  • One accident and two traffic violations
  • License suspension or revocation
  • One or more Serious violations, including:
  • Reckless/Careless driving
    Hit and Run
    Leaving the scene of an accident
    Disobeying an emergency vehicle
    Failure to stop for a school bus
    Failure to stop for an officer
    Open alcohol in a vehicle.

Objective organizational guidelines, policies and procedures should be put in place for both hiring and retention. If your organization has only one driver, you should have these  guidelines, policies and procedures in place. In the current economic climate insurance companies are putting a greater emphasis on underwriting (quality control) and loss control (accident and risk avoidance). Often, in my experience, employers are stumped when they are asked how many accidents or traffic convictions a driver may have and be hired or kept as a driver. Not giving the matter much consideration could result in higher insurance premiums.

In addition to hiring considerations, an MVR can indicate if a driver is in need of counseling or coaching, additional training, or does not meet your standards.

Click here for more information on the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP).




Lessons Learned: The DOT Medical Exam in Hiring

Unreasonable beyond this point.

A large Indiana-based trucking firm was fined $200,000 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for its driver medical policies according to Crain Communications’ Business Insurance.

One error was having drivers undergo a DOT medical exam before making a *conditional offer of employment — a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

(*Conditional offer of employment refers to an offer of employment that is dependent on the completion of certain conditions or passing certain tests.)

When should an organization employing DOT regulated drivers make a conditional offer of employment?

Best transportation-industry driver hiring practices include:

  • administration of a road test, and
  • (if a CDL driver) receiving the results of the DOT pre-hire drug test/screen

before making a conditional job offer. Once a conditional job offer is made, a candidate can then be asked to undergo a DOT physical or medical examination.

A second error by this carrier was asking disability-related questions before a conditional job offer was made. Once a conditional job offer is made, Federal law permits medically-related inquiries of drivers, if the questions are (1.) job-related, and (2.) consistent with business-related necessity.

 . . .if a job applicant volunteers such information, the interviewer is not permitted to pursue inquiries about the nature of the medical condition or disability. Instead, the interview should be refocused so that emphasis is on the ability of the applicant to perform the job, not on the disability.

Motor carriers should also be cautious of any broad medical-clearance policies as: a requirement to notify the company of any contact with medical professionals, or deploying overly broad medical-release forms.


It is unlawful under the ADA to ask drivers questions about medical conditions and/or a disability before a conditional job offer is made. Steer clear of this topic in a pre-hire interview.

Medical records of all applicants and employees must be kept separate from all other personnel information.

Keep any employee medical records in a secure area (under lock and key) with limited access.

Be sure to review your policies, procedures and company manuals to comply with the ADA requirements.

To learn more, see The DOT Safety Audit Guide.

Thank you for reading this.

DOT Driver Qualifications and Background Checks – Webinar

Mike Coffey, SPHR

Tue, Jul 21, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

Mike Coffey, SPHR, will give a one hour presentation on DOT Driver Qualifications and Background Checks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations list requirements for employers regulated by the federal Department of Transportation.  In this presentation, Mike will discuss the FMCSR’s requirements for the DOT application and employment background check process.

Check here for more information.

Driver Qualification (DQ) File – Webcast Highlights


Here are some highlights of today’s JJ Keller webcast on Driver Qualification (DQ) Files, in case you missed it.

The DQ file assists in vetting drivers. It is legal proof of compliance.

An incomplete DQ file is a DOT violation and that file will always be in violation if it is missing required documents or information.

If the DQ file is incomplete, then one may do a “corrective action.”
For example, if the original MVR is missing, then one could substitute the next oldest MVR, and document that by putting a note in the file: “DID THIS IN LIEU OF ORIGINAL MVR.”

Never backdate documents.
The corrective action should show meaningful action to offer a solution by showing safety management controls are now in place to avoid the same mistake.

All CMV drivers in interstate commerce are subject to having DQ Files.
Drivers in intrastate commerce must follow their state rules, which vary from state to state.

Keep DQ files at your primary place of business.
Records must be made available with in 48 hours of DOT request.
Records can be off-site, but you must be able to access them.
DQ file can combined with the personnel file, but you need to be able to separate the documents.

The DOT Drug and Alcohol file must be secured in a controlled access location.

Copies and scans are okay, but must be clear and readable when printed out.

Keep files until end of employment plus at least 3 years.

Medical Cards for Drivers

Part 391

Donald Jerrell of HNi recently posted a blog about driver DOT medical cards (certification).

Deadlines for Medical Cards for Drivers

Some important dates for medical certification to keep in mind include:

  • Jan. 30, 2014: This is the effective date (now passed) that commercial drivers must submit their medical certificate to their state Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Jan. 30, 2015: Interstate commercial drivers must keep copies of their medical examiner’s certifications with them in their vehicle until this date.
  • May 21, 2014: As of this date, all drivers must get medical certification from a health care pro listed in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.

Finding a Certified Doctor

Drivers only can get medical certification from a certified medical examiner who’s on the National Registry. The state DMV syncs its records of who’s a certified medical pro with the registry.


A company must verify that a doctor is certified, according to 391.51 (requirements for driver qualification file):

(9) A note relating to verification of medical examiner listing on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners required by §391.23(m).