Under applicable U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) regulations, motor carriers are required, at least once every twelve months, to review the driving of record of each driver that it employs to determine whether the driver meets the minimum requirements for safe driving or is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. 49 C.F.R. § 391.25. A motor carrier should conduct a full review process at that time to ensure that the driver continues to be qualified in all respects.
Factors to be Considered in a Driver’s Record
DOT regulations provide that the motor carrier must consider the driver’s accident record and any evidence that the driver has violated laws governing the operation of motor vehicles, and must give great weight to violations, such as speeding, reckless driving, and operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that indicate that the driver has exhibited a disregard for the safety of the public.” 49 C.F.R. § 391.25(b)(2). Thus, special attention must be paid to these types of violations.
Documenting the Annual Review of Driving Record
The motor carrier must prepare a note, setting forth the date upon which the review was performed and the name of the person who reviewed the driving record, and include the note in the driver’s qualification file. 49 C.F.R. § 391.25(c)(2). Like most human resource issues, documentation is critical.
The annual driver record review process can constitute an additional character check to bring to the surface any negative propensities of the driver. The employer can then take appropriate action so as to avoid claims of for negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, and negligent entrustment. Depending on the circumstances, appropriate action might include additional training, removing the driver from safety-sensitive functions, assigning the driver to different vehicles, or supervising the driver more closely. Of course, if the employer learns that the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle, the employer should prohibit the driver from operating CMVs immediately.
Motor carriers run the risk of liability when hiring or retaining unqualified drivers. At a bare minimum, motor carriers should conduct a thorough review of driving records as required by DOT regulations on an annual basis. If your company needs help developing a DOT commercial driver safety policy, contact one of the transportation law attorneys of Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A.
About the Author:
Minnesota transportation lawyer Bryan R. Battina advises clients, drafts contracts, and litigates disputes in the transportation industry for motor carriers and household goods moving companies. Bryan may be reached at 612.455.0505 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. is a Minnesota transportation law firm located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.