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Driver Qualification

A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is required in the United States to operate any type of vehicle weighing more than 26,000 lb (11,793 kg) for commercial use.  A CDL is also required for drivers that transport hazardous materials that require warning placards under Department of Transportation regulations. A CDL must also be held when a driver is transporting 16 or more passengers, including the driver.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was signed into law on October 27, 1986. The intent of the Act was to improve highway safety by ensuring that truck drivers and drivers of tractor trailers and buses are qualified to drive Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs). The regulations also seek to remove drivers that are unsafe and unqualified from the highways. The Act continued to give states the authority to issue CDLs, but the federal government established minimum requirements that must be met when issuing a CDL.

Simply having a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) does not make a driver qualified to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle.  Prior to the employment of a driver, the fleet owner is required to road test a prospective driver to ensure that they can operate the type of vehicle that they will be driving. There are some cases where a road test is not required.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues specific rules called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) which address driver qualifications. These rules specify that a driver MUST be qualified to drive the type of commercial vehicle he or she has been hired to or intends to operate.

Proof of the road test or its equivalent must be kept in the driver’s qualification file. Each driver’s qualification file also includes a motor vehicle record check, previous work histories, drug and alcohol testing results, medical examiner’s certificates, and more. The qualification process may take several days to complete as the investigation of a driver’s employment and driving history may take time to obtain and verify.

The FMCSRs also required that motor carriers perform an annual review for each driver who is employed. Each driver’s records must be reviewed and evaluated ensuring that the driver is still qualified under the FMCSRs.
Additional requirements for qualifying to drive a CMV include:
•    The driver must be at least 21 years of age. (There are some exceptions for intra state driving.)
•    The driver must be able to read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals, to respond to official inquiries, and to be able to make entries on reports and records.
•    Validate, by reason of experience, training, or both, that he or she can safely operate the type of commercial motor vehicle driven.
•    Each driver must be physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with Subpart E — Physical Qualifications and Examinations of 49 CFR 391.
•    Drivers must also prepare and furnished the motor carrier that employs him/her with the list of violations or the certificate as required by §391.27
•    Drivers cannot be disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the rules in §391.15;
•    And successfully completed a driver's road test and has been issued a certificate of driver's road test in accordance with §391.31, or has presented an operator's license or a certificate of road test which the motor carrier that employs him/her has accepted as equivalent to a road test in accordance with §391.33.

As with many of the regulations, there is a mandatory document retention requirement associated with this regulation.

Evidence Solutions Heavy Truck Division experts know these regulations and can help you navigate the qualifications of drivers in Truck Cases. Our experts have backgrounds in: Driving, Enforcement as well as  Safety.

Our experts at Evidence Solutions - Heavy Truck Division will help you understand the FMCSRs and how they apply.

Have questions about the Truck Safety or Truck Accident Consulting?  Call us @ 888-277-1979 and talk with one of our experts.

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