The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) requires diligence on the part of a trucking company, not only when it employs a driver, but also after he/she begins operating one of its vehicles. In previous entries, we have discussed mandatory pre-employment background checks which must be conducted by trucking companies.
Section 391.25 of the FMCSR requires as well that a trucking company conduct a review of each of its driver’s driving records for the preceding 12 months. A motor carrier must also obtain reports from each of its drivers with a list of all violations of motor vehicle traffic law and citations of which the driver had been convicted and/or forfeited a bond or collateral during the preceding 12 months.
A trucking company must not only obtain such reports of employee/driver accidents or violations, but must also analyze these reports to determine whether any of the violations are such that the driver must be disqualified from driving for a period of up to one year. As in example, a disqualifying offense would be driving a trucking rig while under the influence of alcohol.
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In addition, a trucking company’s supervision obligations include the duty to monitor the actual hours being logged by its drivers to make sure that they are not operating their rigs more than is allowed by law. The failure to monitor driver logs can be a grounds of liability against a trucking company, particularly in situations where a fatigued driver causes a collision.
Thus, among the many duties imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, a trucking company must diligently supervise all of the drivers in its employ, not only checking out their background thoroughly before employing them, but also during the period of their employ, constantly monitoring their activities to make sure they are in compliance with all applicable safety regulations.
Failure to properly supervise a driver can be an independent basis for liability against a trucking company – as it should be.
The applicable regulation is reprinted below:
Background and character
§391.25 Annual inquiry and review of driving record. (a) Except as provided in subpart G of this part, each motor carrier shall, at least once every 12 months, make an inquiry to obtain the motor vehicle record of each driver it employs, covering at least the preceding 12 months, to the appropriate agency of every State in which the driver held a commercial motor vehicle operator’s license or permit during the time period.
(b) Except as provided in subpart G of this part, each motor carrier shall, at least once every 12 months, review the motor vehicle record of each driver it employs to determine whether that driver meets minimum requirements for safe driving or is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle pursuant to §391.15.
(b)(1) The motor carrier must consider any evidence that the driver has violated any applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations in this subchapter or Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR chapter I, subchapter C).
(b)(2) 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.
(c) Record keeping. (1) A copy of the motor vehicle record required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be maintained in the driver’s qualification file.
(c)(2) A note, including the name of the person who performed the review of the driving record required by paragraph (b) of this section and the date of such review, shall be maintained in the driver’s qualification file.
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