Before we discuss the minimum qualifications all commercial truck drivers must possess, here are some items the carrier must have on file at his place of business for each employee in this line of work:
- The driver’s employment application,
- An inquiry addressed to past employers,
- One sent to the appropriate state agencies,
- The driving record’s annual review,
- The driver’s annual violations certification,
- The driver’s certificate for the road test or something equivalent,
- The record of his/her medical examination, as well as his SPE Waiver (Skill Performance Evaluation)
- A verification confirming the driver’s medical examiner appears in the country’s registry.
- A training certificate from the driver that’s at least entry level.
The qualification file belonging to each driver must be kept during his employment as well as 3 years after the contract is terminated.
Requirements for Drivers
The requirements drivers need to meet besides filing the documents mentioned above are:
- If they’re involved in intrastate commerce, a minimum age of 18 is necessary.
- A minimum age of 21 is needed if hazardous materials are transported or to perform interstate commerce.
- The driver’s English reading and speaking skills must be sufficient for understanding traffic signals and signs, for speaking to the public, to answer questions posed by officials, and to make entries on records and reports.
- The driver must have the ability to safely operate the vehicle.
- He must know loading procedures including securing the automobile.
- He mustn’t be disqualified from the position.
- He must possess a single driver’s license.
Requirements for the Physical Examination
A medical professional is needed to perform a physical exam in the name of the DOT. That person needs to be trained through a program authorized by the FMCSA, and he must appear in the Medical Examiner’s National Registry.
To avoid lapses in record keeping, drivers must file their actual medical exam certificate, as well as their mailing address with the License Office in their state.
Licenses for Commercial Drivers
Such a license is necessary for all drivers that operate foreign commerce, intrastate, or interstate with an automobile that meets the following characteristics:
- It’s a 26,000 pounds GVWR or more single vehicle.
- Its gross weight and weight rating surpasses 26,000 pounds.
- It’s designed for the purpose of moving 15 passengers or more, plus the driver.
- It’s moving hazardous materials for which a placard is necessary.
Besides skills and knowledge tests, commercial vehicle drivers must get endorsements for their CDL and go through more tests, such as:
- Knowledge test for triple or double trailers,
- Skills and Knowledge test for passenger vehicles,
- Knowledge test for tank vehicles,
- Skills and knowledge test for school busses,
- Knowledge test for transporting hazardous materials,
- Knowledge tests for dealing with both hazardous materials and a tank vehicle.
If a part of the knowledge test is failed or the skills test is done using an automobile that doesn’t have the needed equipment, a restriction may be enforced by the CDL on the license holder against operating vehicles with that particular equipment. You can speak to the Department of Revenue if you’d like to access a CDL restrictions list. These can be:
- Intrastate only,
- Needed medical variance,
- Fifth wheel attachments may be banned,
- Using a manual transmission may be banned,
- Air brakes may be banned.
Class E For-Hire Licenses
These can be obtained at the age of 18. They qualify you to drive an automobile for commercial purposes if it doesn’t need a CDL. If you’re getting paid to drive an automobile transporting up to 14 passengers or an automobile used for moving property, then you’ll need this license in order to get employed.
If an employee uses a vehicle regularly as part of his/her job, regardless if that car is owned by the individual or by someone else, and if the vehicle is meant for transporting merchandise, freight, or for commercial or business purposes, he/she will need such a license.
The Classification System in Missouri
The Revenue Department in Missouri defines several CDL classes to people who can demonstrate the necessary skills and knowledge. The highway patrol performs these skills and knowledge tests.
Someone who obtains an A Class CDL may drive automobiles with an above 26.000 GCW/GCWR if the towed vehicle’s weight doesn’t exceed 10.000 pounds. These same people may drive class C and B vehicles, and even automobiles which require a Class F or E license if they have the right endorsements.
Holders of Class B CDLs can drive a vehicle of more than 26.000 pounds DVW/DVWR, or one towing an automobile that weighs at most 10.000 pounds. If they have the right endorsements, owners of such CDLs may also drive vehicles for which Class C, E, and F CDLs may be needed.
Holders of Class C CDLs may not drive Class B or A vehicles. However, people may need such a CDL to drive 16+ passenger vehicles, or to transport hazardous materials. They can also operate vehicles for which a Class F or E license is needed.
Disqualifying Suspensions or Offenses due to Traffic Violations
If a driver’s license was suspended, the employer must not allow him to use a CMV. The following convictions are also reasons to disqualify drivers:
- CMV driving when intoxicated with controlled substances, drugs, or alcohol. For example, if the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream exceeds 0.04, a carrier may not be driven. If the concentration exceeds 0.08, then no other vehicles may be driven as well.
- Refusing the alcohol test.
- Leaving an accident scene.
- Performing a felony with the use of a vehicle.
- Driving with a canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified license.
- Causing a fatality with a vehicle.
- Making grave traffic violations with a vehicle.
- Not following the highway-railroad crossing rule.
Service Hours for Drivers
Service hours are applicable to all drivers and motor carriers using commercial vehicles.
Property carriers: For such vehicles, drivers may drive for at most 11 hours with 10 resting hours in between for at most 14 shifts at a time. During a week or 7 days, drivers may not work for more than 60 hours. During 8 days, they may work for 70 hours at most. After a minimum of 30 minutes of a sleeper berth or off duty session, drivers may not drive if more than 8 hours have passed.
Passenger carriers: For such vehicles, drivers may operate them for 10 hours at a time. Each day must have at most 15 working hours between shifts. Drivers may also not operate an automobile for more than 60 hours at a time during a seven day period, or 70 hours at a time during an eight day period.
Exemption of 16 hours: A driver that carries property may not conform to the 14 hours per day regulation if:
- He is released and returning from his usual reporting location during the past 5 tours;
- He’s released within a time frame not exceeding 16 hours and is currently returning to his usual reporting location;
- This exemption has not been used in the past 6 days. Additionally, this provision can also be used if 34+ hours of off duty time have passed.
150 Mile Radius Non CDL Provision
Drivers can skip the requirements of the daily log in situations where all of the things mentioned below are applicable:
- The vehicle operated by the driver is a CMV which carries property and doesn’t need a CDL.
- The operation does not go past a 150 mile radius from the reporting location.
- When the duty tour ends, the motor vehicle is returned to its reporting location.
Drivers in such a situation must respect the following rules:
- The working/break hours discussed above.
- The duty period may be extended to a maximum of 16 hours on two out of seven consecutive days.
- There isn’t a rule stating, at the end of his 16 or 14 hour duty, the driver must be released.
Drivers will create a daily duty status record in handwriting every 24 hours, unless they’re under an exemption. Not completing and maintaining a log, or falsifying it, may lead to prosecution.
100 Miles Radius Exemption
When everything in the below list applies, a driver may skip maintaining his/her daily log:
- His operations are no further from the reporting location than 100 air miles.
- In at most 12 hours, the driver will end his work and go back to the reporting location.
- After spending 12 hours driving, there will be a minimum of eight hours of resting time in case of passenger carriers, and ten hours of resting time when driving property carriers.
- The driving time must not surpass 10 hours after eight hours of rest when it comes to passenger carriers. It must also not go past 11 hours after 10 hours of rest when it comes to property carriers.
- The driver’s employer must retain and maintain records starting from six months in the past showing how many hours the employee has driven every day, including when he comes in for duty and when he is released.
Since 2017, drivers and carriers that must keep duty status records must install and use a logging device that complies with the FMCSA with which to collect supporting documents and store information.
The main business place must keep a 6 month old record of the carrier’s duty status along with the documents that supports it. An additional device must be used to store a backup of the records.
After completing a log sheet, the driver must send it to the carrier in at most 13 days. If a driver is used just for the initial or intermittent part of the transport, he will need to provide a statement of the total duty time for the last 7 days and for the time he was last on duty.
Requirements for Drug and Alcohol Testing
Drivers with a CDL must submit themselves to federal and state controlled alcohol and substance testing. Safety regulations imposed by the federal government state that companies must give each driver a policy on alcohol misuse and controlled substances use during work. This document will include what position the company takes on the issue as well as information on every facet of alcohol misuse and substances use.
Driver supervisors need a minimum of an hour of training regarding the misuse of alcohol and another hour for training regarding controlled substances.
After receiving the driver’s permission in writing, the carrier must speak to his past employers from the last 3 years and receive the below mentioned documents:
- Alcohol tests where the concentration was 0.04 or higher.
- Test results on controlled substances that were positive.
- Any refusals the person may have made when it came to testing.
- Any additional DOT alcohol and drug testing violations.
- If an employee tested positive, the paperwork stating he completed the requirements for returning to duty will also be required.
Types of tests on controlled substances and alcohol:
- Before employment: Until receiving a negative test on controlled substances completed by the driver, the employer must not allow him to take on safety sensitive tasks.
- After an accident: After a crash, companies must test the drivers involved for controlled substances and alcohol if the following happened during the accident:
- One of the vehicles had to be towed due to too much damage, and a safety related issue was cited to the driver.
- A safety related issue was cited to the driver, and an injury occurred which needed medical attention immediately and at a hospital.
- A fatality occurred.
- Random: Random and scientific tests must be performed on drivers annually. When it comes to controlled substances, around 25% of drivers must be verified each year. When it comes to alcohol, 10% of employees which operate the company’s vehicles must be checked.
- Suspicion of a reasonable degree: The company may ask a driver to go through a controlled substances or alcohol test if the employer has reason to suspect the prohibitions on these substances have been violated. A supervisor will make these observations or an official from the company with training on supervisor awareness.
- Going back to duty: Before someone can go back to duty as a driver after having a test turn positive, he/she must go through another test on controlled substances which must turn out negative.
- Follow up: In cases where a professional on substance abuse says the driver requires help for using controlled substances or for alcohol misuse, it’s the employer’s responsibility to subject him to testing.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.
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