What are the basic qualifications to drive a commercial motor vehicle?

According to the FMCSA, a qualified commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver must meet eight qualifications. These qualifications include:

  1. Be at least 21 years old
  2. Be able to read and speak the English language well enough to converse with the general public, understand English traffic signs and signals, respond to official inquiries, and make entries on reports and records.
  3. Be able to safely operate the type of motor vehicle he or she drives, by way of experience, training, or both.
  4. Be physically qualified to drive a motor vehicle in accordance with the medical qualification standards.
  5. Have a currently valid CMV operator’s license issued by only one state or jurisdiction.
  6. Have prepared and furnished the motor carrier that employs him or her with a list of violations from the past 12 months (or certifications that there were no violations).
  7. Not be disqualified to drive a motor vehicle under the rules laid out in the FMCSRs.
  8. Have successfully completed a driver’s road test and been issued a certificate of driver’s road test, unless the employer accepts a driver’s license or previously issued certification of road test instead.

If a driver works with cargo distribution and securement, he or she must meet 2 additional qualifications. These include:

  1. Being able to determine whether the cargo they transport has been properly located, distributed and secured in or on the motor vehicles they drive.
  2. Be familiar with methods and procedures for securing cargo in or on the motor vehicle they drive.

What are the steps required in a new driver’s background check?

All motor carriers are required to check into the employment history of each new driver they employ. This background check must be completed and documented within 30 days of the date employment begins. The investigation into the driver’s background may be completed by any means deemed appropriate, including but not limited to, personal interviews, telephone interviews, and letters. The FMCSA outlines a 6-step background checking process. These steps include:

  1. A driver with a Department of Transportation (DOT)-regulated employment within the past 3 years must be informed that they have the ability to review the information provided by the previous employers and the opportunity to correct that information.
  2. The hiring employer must contact each DOT-regulated employer who employed the driver in the previous three years and request general employment data about the driver, information regarding any accidents involving the applicant, and any drug/alcohol violations for applicants who were subject to the DOT drug/alcohol test.
  3. Previous employers must respond within 30 days and keep a record of the response for one year.
  4. The hiring employer must file the investigation results within 30 days of employment.
  5. The hiring employer must keep a written record of each previous employer.
  6. The applicant has the opportunity to contest the information given by the previous employer and either request the correction or submit a rebuttal.

What kind of vehicle marking is required for CMVs?

Every self-propelled CMV, as well as every unit of intermodal equipment, must be marked with identifying information. Proper markings must include:

  • The legal name or a single trade name of the motor carrier operating the CMV.
  • The letters “USDOT” followed by the carrier USDOT identification number.

All of this information must be on both sides of the self-propelled vehicle, be in a color that contrasts sharply with the background, and be legible during daylight hours from a distance of 50 feet while the CMV is stopped.

Furthermore, the required markings can be painted or applied as a decal or be displayed on a removable device such as a magnetic sign. As long as the markings meet the standards, you are good to go. Using a removable device such as a magnetic sign would be beneficial for vehicles that are not normally considered CMV’s unless they are pulling a trailer. If the name of any person other than the operating carrier appears on the CMV, then the information just mentioned must be preceded by the words “operated by” so that enforcement personnel can quickly determine who is operating the vehicle.

What About rented or leased vehicles?

If you are renting or leasing the CMV for more than 30 days you must obey the marking standards just discussed. However, if you are renting or leasing the CMV for less than 30 days the vehicle can be marked with either the renter’s information as described previously OR the owner’s information, as long as the lease agreement contains the information required and is carried in the vehicle.