3 Changes to FMCSA’s Driver Qualification File Rules Fleets Need to Know
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can go years without changing its commercial driver qualification (DQ) file requirements in 49 CFR Part 391.
However, this year the agency made a few notable changes that motor carriers should be aware of:
1. Eliminating the Annual List of Violations
Motor carriers will no longer need to request an annual record of violations (certification of violations) from their commercial drivers. Section 391.27 were removed from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on May 9, 2022.
The FMCSA believes asking drivers to list violations occurring over the past year is redundant since carriers also request an annual motor vehicle record (MVR) that contains the same violations.
Note that annual violation lists created through May 8, 2022, must be retained in the DQ file for at least three years. This means, for instance, an annual record of violations provided on the last day of the requirement would have to be kept and provided to FMCSA upon request through May 8, 2025. The FMCSA has not indicated that motor carriers can purge the documents early.
2. Road Test Certificate Format
The FMCSA made some changes to the prescribed format of the road test certificate. This form is kept in the DQ file after a driver successfully completes a road test on a representative commercial motor vehicle per §391.31.
The revised certificate removes personal identifiable information, data that driver applicants are often hesitant to provide. Effective March 22, 2022, the road test certificate no longer needs to capture a driver’s:
- Social Security number,
- Driver’s license number, or
- Licensing state.
If you are using up previously purchased road test certificates in the old format, you are not obligated to enter these data elements. You can leave those fields empty.
Note that personal identification information (e.g., Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license number) remains on the driver-specific application per §391.21. Suppose an applicant is concerned about providing PII during an initial application. In that case, a motor carrier could ask for the information further into the vetting process, providing it is captured before the driver operates a commercial motor vehicle (i.e., is dispatched) for the first time.
3. Licensing Authorities
The FMCSA changed wording concerning entities that issue driver’s licenses.
Effective March 22, 2022, the term “state” was replaced with “driver’s licensing authority.” This simple change clarifies that motor carriers must contact states, provinces, and territories to obtain a driver’s MVR to satisfy §§391.23 and 391.25.
This is especially important for those drivers with residency in Canada or Mexico who operate in U.S. commerce, thus making them subject to the FMCSRs. It has always been a requirement to obtain a driving record from these other issuing authorities, but it is now official and removes any doubt.
The change also impacts the phrasing on driver-specific applications. Section 391.21(b)(5) asks driver applicants to list the issuing driver’s licensing agency for each unexpired license. The recent rule removes the generic term of state from the form.
Following Up on Regulatory Changes
Motor carriers should make sure documents are compliant once a change to a DQ file requirement is learned. If forms are ordered through a vendor, the carrier must check that the formats are up to date.
In addition, motor carriers must ensure individuals involved with their DQ file management are aware of any new rules. Failure to do so, for instance, can result in the continuation of obsolete tasks such as the annual list of violations. Although it is not a violation to ask for and retain the annual list, it takes time and resources away from other duties.