A Review of Driver Qualification Files for Bus Drivers
If you employ drivers who operate vehicles that transport nine or more passengers, you must create and maintain a driver qualification file for each of them.
Many employers assume that as long as their business doesn’t employ CDL drivers who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of over 26,000 pounds, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations surrounding driver qualification files don’t apply to them.
In actuality, most federal driver file regulations apply to businesses that operate vehicles with a GVWR/GCWR of 10,001 pounds or more and/or are designed to transport a specific number of passengers.
Do bus drivers need driver qualification files?
Any driver who operates a vehicle with a GVWR/GCWR of 10,001 pounds or more, transports at least nine passengers including the driver, or transports hazardous materials that require placarding, is required to have a driver qualification file. (See 49 CFR Part 391 for the complete regulation).
What's the point of driver qualification files?
Most businesses keep employee documents in one personnel file; however, businesses that are regulated by the DOT also need to have a driver qualification file containing specific records and documentation that demonstrates the employee is safe enough, healthy enough, and qualified to operate a CMV.
What documents need to be in a bus driver's file?
Below, we'll walk through each of the documents that must be kept in your bus drivers' driver qualification files.
DOT Employment Application
Most businesses use employment applications that are acceptable to the FMCSA, but it is important to know what specific information is required that may not be included on standard bus driver job applications, such as:
- Three years of employment history. There cannot be any gaps in time and must include any time spent unemployed, as a student, or incarcerated. (It is important to note here that if an applicant is applying for a job operating a vehicle with a GVWR/GCWR of 26,000 pounds or more, they must list 10 years of employment history.)
- The extent and nature of the applicant’s experience operating any type of motor vehicle.
- Any/all moving violations received over the previous three years. If no violations were received, a statement indicating such must be included.
- Any/all accidents the applicant was involved in over the previous three years. If no accidents occurred, include a statement indicating such.
- The applicant must indicate any circumstances that resulted in a denial, revocation, or suspension of any license to operate a motor vehicle. If no denial, revocation, or suspension occurred, include a statement indicating such.
DOT Medical Certification
The employer must obtain a copy of the applicant’s current and valid medical card. Drivers are required to undergo a DOT medical evaluation at a minimum of once every 24 months. It is the employer’s responsibility to keep track of med card expiration dates in order to ensure that drivers are consistently physically qualified to operate their buses.
Commercial Driver’s License or Road Test Certification
A copy of the applicant’s current and valid driver’s license must be obtained. If the applicant holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a copy of that is sufficient. If no CDL is required, employers must retain evidence that the driver successfully completed a road test in the type of vehicle being operated. It is the employer’s responsibility to keep track of license expiration dates in order to ensure that drivers are consistently qualified to operate buses.
Safety Performance History Investigation
This investigation must be run on an applicant for the previous three years for all DOT-regulated positions he or she may have held, and must contain the following:
- Written authorization from the applicant allowing the investigation to be conducted.
- Responses from any DOT-regulated employers. If previous employers do not respond to the inquiry, documentation must be included that outlines what attempts were made to obtain the information.
- If the applicant did not hold any DOT-regulated positions, documentation indicating such.
Initial Annual Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs)
Also known as “driving records,” this report is a critical aspect of the driver qualification file. The MVR check must be run on an applicant for the previous three years in all states where the applicant held a license. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure MVRs are run no less than once every 12 months.
Foley's MVR monitoring program takes care of this annual requirement and keeps track of your drivers' habits behind the wheel of your buses. Find out how MVR monitoring can help protect your business in this related Foley article.
Securing & Maintaining Driver Qualification Files
The FMCSA requires all confidential records – such as the Safety Performance History investigation – to be maintained in a secure environment with limited access.
All driver qualification files must also be maintained for the duration of an individual’s employment with your company and for three years thereafter.
What's the easiest way to create, maintain, and secure your bus driver files according to FMCSA regulations? Automated DOT compliance software.
Instead of setting up and managing your driver qualification files on your own (and potentially missing required documents), Foley's driver file software automatically creates driver files from documents provided in your employees' initial job applications. From there, you'll be notified when to update any expired files, such as CDLs or medical cards, so you don't fall out of compliance.
Ready to hand over your bus drivers' files once and for all? Request a free software demo or fill out the form below to get started.