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Author / Coordinator:  
March 2007

The federal motor carrier safety regulations apply to all motor carriers, including private carriers such as dealers, who operate vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce. The truck does not necessarily have to leave the state to be involved in interstate commerce. Any truck which continues the interstate movement of goods is involved in interstate commerce. If the dealer only occasionally makes interstate trips, he should consider designating one employee as the interstate driver in order to minimize record keeping requirements.

Most states have adopted the federal rules for all intrastate truck transportation as well, so the vast majority of dealers will have to comply with these rules for all trips. However, some states do not apply these rules to private carriers, and other states have different exemptions or additional rules beyond the federal requirements. Every dealer should check the motor carrier rules for the state in which his vehicles are registered.

Dealers who operate interstate may be audited for compliance by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) inspectors. The FHWA has a goal of auditing every motor carrier once every five years. These audits are conducted principally through examination of the dealer’s records. Federal inspectors only make a limited numbers of roadside vehicle checks. Roadside inspections are usually carried out by state officers who enforce both interstate and intrastate rules. Since the principal target of the federal audits is record keeping, those requirements are
Summarized below.


Dealers may permit only qualified drivers to operate their vehicles. An operator must be at least 21 years old, able to read and speak English, able to safely load and operate the vehicle, hold a current commercial motor vehicle operator’s license appropriate for the vehicle to be operated, pass a written exam and a road test, and pass a medical exam which includes testing for the use of controlled substances (drugs). Drivers of certain vehicles must hold a commercial driver’s license issued by a state (see last section of brochure). In order to document a driver’s qualifications, dealers must keep a detailed file for every employee who operates a truck larger than a pickup in interstate commerce. The driver’s qualification file must be kept at the dealership as long as driver is employed by the dealer and for three years for The following records may be removed from the driver’s file after three years: medical examination certificate, annual driving record and violation reviews. The driver qualification file must include the following:

1. Application for Employment – Completed and signed by the employee, which includes:

the name and address of the dealership;

the employee’s name, address, date of birth, and social security number;

the employee’s home addresses for the last three years;

the date of application for employment;

the issuing state, number and expiration date of each unexpired motor vehicle operator’s license or permit that has been issued to the employee;

the nature and extent of the employee’s experience in operating motor vehicles, including the types of equipment operated;

a list of all motor vehicle accident in which the employee has been involved during the last three years, including the date and nature of each accident and any fatalities or injuries which it caused;

a list of all motor vehicle violations (except parking) of which the employee has been convicted in the last three years;

a statement explaining the circumstances of any denial, revocation or suspension of a driver’s license, permit or privilege, or a statement that no such denial, revocation or suspension has occurred;

a list of the names and addresses of the applicant’s employers for the last ten years along with the dates of employment and the reason for leaving each one;

the applicant’s signature and the date after the following certification statement: "This certifies that this application was completed by me, and that all entries on it and information in it are true and complete to the best of my knowledge."

2. Driving Record and Past Employment Inquiries Within 30 days of hiring an employee who will be operating an interstate truck, dealers must inquire about the applicant’s driving record with the appropriate state agency in every state where the applicant held a motor vehicles operator’s license during the last three years. Also within 30 days, dealers must investigate by letter or phone the previous employment record of each driver. The driver’s qualification file must contain the following documents to show these investigations have been completed:

a copy of the response from each state agency showing the driver’s driving record or certifying that no driving record exists for that driver;

a written record of the name and address of each previous employer contacted, the date of the contact, and the comments of the previous employer.

3. Annual Review of Violations and Driving Record At least once a year, dealers must review the driving record of each driver to determine whether or not the driver meets the minimum requirements for safe driving, including whether or not the driver has violated any safety regulations while driving a truck or has been involved in any accidents during the year. In addition, every year, the dealer must obtain from each driver a list of all moving violations of which the driver has been convicted during the year. This list should include the date and location of the conviction, the type of offense, and the type of vehicle involved. To meet these requirements, the following documents must be in each driver’s qualification file:

a note setting forth the date of the annual review and signed by the person doing the review.

a statement, signed by the driver, listing all traffic violations or certifying that he has not been convicted of any violations during the previous year.

4.  Road Test – Every driver must pass a road test administered either by the state motor vehicle licensing agency, the dealer, or an individual designated by the dealer who is competent to evaluate the driver’s ability to handle all vehicles which he will operate. A Commercial Drivers License fulfills the road test requirement. A driver need not be retested if he can provide a document that shows he has successfully passed a road test in the last three years. During the road test, the evaluator must complete a form rating the performance of the driver on the following operations:

· Completion of the pre-trip inspection.

· Coupling and uncoupling of combination units if applicable.

· Placing the vehicle in motion; use of the vehicle’s controls and emergency equipment.

· Operating the vehicle in traffic passing and turning, slowing and braking, and backing and parking.

As part of the road test requirements, a driver’s qualification file must contain:
a copy of a valid operator’s license issued by a state after a road test in the type of vehicle he will be driving, OR

A road test evaluation form indicating the performance of the driver on each of the operations listed above and signed by the evaluator X a road test certification form listing the driver’s name, social security number, motor vehicle operator’s license number, state, the type of power unit and trailers tested, the date and length (in miles) of the test and a signed statement by the evaluator that the driver "possesses sufficient driving skill to operate safely the type of commercial motor vehicle listed above."

5. Written Examination – Every driver must be given an "open book" written examination on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The test consists of 57 questions (plus nine additional questions for drivers of hazardous material) and is for educational purposes only. (Copies of the test can be obtained by writing to any regional Federal Highway Administrator.) After the test, the person who administers it either the dealer or a person designated by the dealer, must review with the driver the correct answer to any questions which were answered incorrectly and then issue the driver a certificate of completion of the exam. A driver need not be retested if he has completed a test within the last three years and can provide a copy of the test certification. The driver’s qualification file must contain:

· A copy of the certification of completion of the written exam.

· A copy of the questions asked in the exam.

· The driver’s answers to those questions.

6. Medical Examination – A driver operating in interstate commerce must carry, on his person, a copy of a doctor’s certificate stating that he is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. The licensed medical doctor performing the exam must be given an instruction form describing the specific examinations which must be performed and a reporting form on which the doctor can note his findings. The reporting form must contain a certificate of medical qualification that is signed by the physician. The driver must be re-examined every two years. The driver’s qualification file must contain a copy of the physician’s certificate of his physical qualification. FHWA agents recommend keeping a copy of the exam form in the file as well.

7. Controlled Substances – Testing for controlled substances is the subject of a different brochure.  There are various record-keeping requirements under that law, but only the following information is to be kept in driver qualification files for drivers of vehicles over 26,000 pounds:

· The type of test for which the driver submitted a urine specimen.

· The date the specimen was collected.

· The location of the collection.

The identity of the person or entity (1) performing the collection, (2) analyzing the specimen, and (3) serving as the medical review officer; whether the test finding was positive or negative and the controlled substances identified in any positive test.


All accidents involving a death, personal injury requiring medical treatment away from the scene of the accident, or property damage exceeding $4,400 must be reported to the appropriate regional Motor Carrier Safety Office of the FHWA. Fatal accidents must be reported by phone or in person within 24 hours. All accidents, including fatal accidents, must be reported within 30 days using the Department of Transportation form MCS 50-T. If an individual dies as a result of injuries sustained in an accident within 30 days, but after the dealer has filed the written report of the accident, the death must be reported on the next business day after the dealer learns of the death. Copies of all accident reports must be kept at the dealership for three years.


Interstate truck drivers may not drive longer than 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty, or for any period after performing work functions for 15 hours. In addition, a driver may not drive after accruing more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. In order to ensure that interstate truck drivers do not exceed these limits and thus drive longer than would be safe, federal rules require that very detailed records of duty status be kept of how each driver spends his time. These logs are required for every interstate trip made by a dealer’s driver, regardless of the fact that such trips might be unlikely to exceed the federal driving time limits. There is an exception to the driver’s log requirement for interstate trips that are within a 100 air-mile radius of the dealership. (Michigan and Ohio also have this exemption for intrastate travel.) 

To qualify for the exemption, dealers need to ensure that:

· The driver will not be away from the dealership for more than 12 hours

· The driver does not exceed 10 hours of driving time; 

· At least eight hours off duty separate each 12 hours on duty;

· The trip will not take the driver beyond the 100 air-mile radius

If these conditions are met, then the dealer needs only to keep records showing the time the driver reports for duty each day, the total number of hours the driver is on duty each day, and the time the driver is released from duty each day. These records can be pulled from regular payroll records and need not be kept separately. However, for each driver who makes 100 air-mile interstate trips, the required information must be available on a day-by-day basis and be retained for six months.

For each trip beyond the 100 air-mile radius, the driver’s record of duty status must be prepared. This involves completion by the driver of a daily log form which graphically charts how the driver spent his time on a 24-hour basis. A copy of a properly completed log and explanation is found below. In addition to the grid, the driver must include the following information on the log form:


Total number of miles that day

Truck and/or trailer I.D. numbers or the license plate numbers

Name and address of the dealer

Name of any co-driver

The shipping document numbers or the name and address of the customer and a description of the load

Driver’s signature

24-hour period starting time

Total hours in each duty status: off duty, on duty driving, and on duty not driving, 

An explanation of the reason for any excessive number of hours worked.

The driver’s log must be completed in duplicate, with one copy on file at the dealership for six months. The other copy is retained by the driver. If a driver makes regular interstate trips, he must carry in the cab logs for the last seven days while on an interstate trip. If only intermittent trips are made, the driver must carry with him a signed statement giving the total number of hours worked for each of the preceding seven days. This form is know as a "re-cap" form. The dealer should also keep a copy of all recap forms for six months. The government does not print or supply daily logs but they can be obtained from the American Trucking Associations or through your regional dealers association.

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