The New 2022 DOT Physical – What You Need to Know

The New 2022 DOT Physical – What You Need to Know

The new driver physical requirement has been put in place this year by the DOT as an important part of keeping America’s roads and highways safe. Let’s take a look at what it is and what you need to do to keep compliant with the new health exam requirements.

What is the new 2022 DOT Physical?

The new 2022 DOT physical is a health exam required of commercial drivers by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that commercial drivers are capable of fulfilling their job. This exam must be completed by a DOT medical examiner and documented every 24 months.

Are All Drivers Required to Get a DOT Physical?

This requirement applies to the following classifications of drivers:

  • Drivers who transport hazardous materials
  • Drivers who are paid to operate a vehicle that carries over 8 people
  • Drivers who operate a vehicle that carries more than 15 people
  • Drivers who operate a vehicle with a gross combined weight of over 10,000 pounds

What does the Physical Consist of?

The DOT exam will cover:

  • Health history
  • Vision assessment
  • Hearing test
  • Blood pressure

As well as a number of other health factors that can indicate a risk while operating a commercial vehicle.

What Factors Might Disqualify a Driver?

Here are a few guidelines and some minimum requirements for drivers to pass their exam:

  • 20/40 vision in each eye (with or without glasses); 70+ degrees field of vision; the ability to distinguish between red, green, and yellow.
  • The hearing test requires you to hear a harsh whisper in your best ear
  • Blood pressure below 180/100; blood pressure between 140/90 and 179/109 may require an annual exam.
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes, hernias, obesity, and sleep apnea that are not in control
  • Uncontrolled or unstable heart conditions
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that causes dizziness
  • Use of marijuana, even if prescribed
  • Use of illegal substances
  • Use of oxygen therapy
  • Some respiratory conditions

What You Need to Know for Compliance

Just like any other DOT requirement, if your driver is caught without a medical certificate, they are taken off the road and you will pay for it. Not just in fines, but in the business that is impacted by the loss of a driver.

As driver requirements are changed, increased, and refined, it is so important to have a way to track which of your drivers complies and who may be coming due for their next medical exam.

Take a look at DQMConnect. This amazing application is helping many companies address the same concerns. Real-time alerts and a dashboard view of your driver compliance, puts you in control.

Keep your company safe, your drivers compliant, and your clients happy with DQMConnect.

FMCSA Offsite Audits on the Rise

FMCSA Offsite Audits on the Rise

The FMCSA has been conducting offsite audits for over 3 years. Starting in 2019, they were largely focused on safety reviews. However, the number and types of offsite audits have been on the rise. The pandemic encouraged the transition while the ease and cost effectiveness of offsite audits are continuing the trend upward.

In 2020, nearly 5 times the number of offsite audits were conducted as compared with 2019. Last year, 2021 saw a rule change enabling the FMCSA to issue safety ratings after an offsite audit. More motor carriers are receiving a “conditional” safety rating than “satisfactory”, despite so many audits being done remotely. This is something the agency could never do before.

Given the trend of the past 3 years and the fact that offsite audits appear to be working, they will likely remain part of the agency’s approach for years to come.

Let’s examine the audit numbers for 2021.

6% increase in audits; 95% resulting in violations

30% increase in audits that uncovered severe violations

37% increase in audits with critical violations such as missing records

The rise in conditional safety ratings is an important consideration for any HR manager or Fleet Manager. Conditional safety ratings can have costly consequences, including lost customers, higher insurance rates, and increased liability in court.

The Transition to Offsite Audits

As we can see, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is relying more heavily on offsite audits. It is time for you to embrace a DQM File Management tool to help ensure your compliance and facilitate these offsite audits. DQMConnect has a truly unique approach to DQM File Management. You maintain control of your files and it presents you with your compliance status and prepares the necessary audit files right from the Dashboard. No waiting. No loss of control. The data is yours and is accessible 24×7. For you and for the auditor should you need it.

Let us show you why more carriers are moving to DQMConnect to stay in control, in compliance, and audit ready!

The Tech Wave is Here!!

The Tech Wave is Here!!

The transportation industry is definitely shifting from an old-school approach into the tech era. As devices, such as telematics, become more sophisticated, data capture and sharing are at the heart of mobility solutions. Fleets and trucking companies that have embraced digital transformation are benefitting. The newer technologies have helped reduce operating costs and enabled expansion their core business.

In this article, VLC shares some great tools to help you ride the technology wave for improved business efficiency, time and cost savings.

DQMConnect™ is the leading driver qualification file management solution offering centralized storage and efficient driver communications capabilities. Not only will driver files stay organized, up-to-date, and compliant but the technology approach to hiring will help attract the best candidates.

TripDAWG is a customizable fleet management telematics solution focused on 6 key areas: efficiency, safety, vehicle health and reliability, regulatory compliance, sustainability, and data access/expandability. Start with our Geotab fleet telematics core and expand your TripDAWG solution to meet your business objectives.

Mandates for electronic logging devices by the FMCSA apply to most motor carriers and drivers who are required to maintain records of duty status (RODS). These electronic requirements are propelling the technology wave and giving rise to newer and better features.

If you would like to learn more about how technology can improve your business, contact us. One of VLC’s transportation specialists will be happy to assist. Their years of industry experience are sure to uncover some great ideas to benefit your business!

Understanding Your DQ File Management Requirements

Understanding Your DQ File Management Requirements

If you’re looking into starting up your own trucking or transportation company, it’s critical to understand your regulatory requirements.  Commercial transportation in the United States is tightly regulated, and compliance issues can bring steep penalties. For transportation startups, falling afoul of these laws can quickly end the venture.

One of the biggest sources of trouble are regulations relating to Driver Qualification Files (DQFs). These files include a large assortment of information about all of your paid drivers and must be strictly maintained.  This includes information from when they were first hired, as well as annual updates on their performance. Scrupulous DQ file management is a necessity, as you could be called upon to provide these files to regulators at almost any time.

So, in this guide, we’ll break down DQ file management requirements: What information you need to keep, what needs to be updated and when, and what penalties you could face if you fail to do so.

I: What Is a Driver Qualification File?

Simply put, a DQF is the master file which proves each driver you employ is properly qualified to operate the machinery they use.  It includes an extensive list of documentation – covered in detail below – ranging from the driver’s initial job application to ongoing updated information on driving performance and violations.

This is required by the Department of Transportation and is fully detailed under 49 CFR Part 391.  When in doubt, refer to the official legislation to avoid any confusion.

II: What Drivers Need A DQF?

Broadly speaking, assume you need to keep a DQF for any driver you employ who’s operating a motor vehicle for commercial purposes.  It is important to note that these regulations are not solely restricted to drivers who have a Commercial Drivers’ License. There are several situations where even a driver without a CDL will still need a DQF on file.

DQ file management regulations cover any licensed driver who operates a commercial vehicle of at least 10,001 pounds gross weight, who transports placarded hazardous materials of any weight, or who carries at least 8 passengers in the vehicle (including themselves).  So, for example, a driver in a regular pickup truck transporting a single barrel of hazardous waste would still need a DQF on file.

Our advice is to simply keep a DQF on hand for everyone who drives, to be safe.

III. What Goes into a DQF?

Be aware that DQF requirements tend to change, so it’s always a good idea to check for up-to-date information in your state.  However, at the time of writing (July 2022) the current Federal requirements for your DQFs include:

  • The driver’s original employment application
  • Any pre-employment questionnaires if they are separate from the employment application
  • The driver’s Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) at the time of hiring
  • Any existing violations on record at the time of hiring
  • Medical physical test results and certification of physical fitness
  • Documentation of any special medical needs or exemptions, if applicable
  • Road test certifications, aside from tests taken by the driver to obtain a CDL
  • Verification of past employment, or documentation of good-faith efforts to verify employment if prior employers do not respond
  • Annually updated MVR records
  • Annually updated records of any violations, accidents, or other incidents

In addition to this, there are requirements relating to how long particular pieces of information need to be kept on file, even past the end of the driver’s employment. These requirements currently are:

  • The DQF itself: Throughout employment and three years after
  • Individual elements relating to the driver’s MVR, health records, drug tests, and violations are kept for three years, then cycled out and replaced with newer information.
  • Accident register: three years
  • Positive drug test results: five years
  • Negative drug tests: one year
  • Driving logs and supporting documentation: six months
  • Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs): Three months
  • Vehicle inspection, maintenance, and repair reports: Cycled after one year, and retained for six months after the vehicle leaves your control

As you can see, there is a lot of specific information that needs to be kept, and with very precise time requirements as well. These must be followed exactly, or else penalties could be assessed.

IV: What Are the Penalties for DQ File Management Non-Compliance?

The DOT is empowered to conduct audits of DQFs at virtually any time if there are indications of compliance or safety regulation violations.  This is particularly likely if a driver is involved in an accident or a major moving violation.  Just assume your records will be audited if there’s a significant incident.

It’s worth mentioning that these files can also provide protection for your company.  If a driver is involved in an accident due to their own negligence, you will be expected to demonstrate that you had performed all due diligence to guarantee their fitness, or else you may share in their legal burdens.  With properly maintained DQ file management, you can avoid blame for your drivers’ mistakes.

However, DQF violations are common. Thousands of violations are documented per year and typically cost upwards of $600 per individual item which is out of compliance. When the DOT finds DQF violations, the cost to a company is typically, on average, over $6,000 due to multiple violations stacking. Some specific violations, such as allowing drivers to operate a vehicle without documented physical examinations, can carry fines over $11,000 per violation.

In short, these penalties can be absolutely disastrous for a small startup, and a significant burden for even large companies which should be avoided at all costs.

V: Protect Yourself with DQ File Management Software

The best way to maintain compliance with DQF management regulations is with smart software packages.

By digitizing your DQFs and keeping them in a central database, software systems make it easy to track and update DQFs whenever needed. Better yet, these solutions are smart enough to monitor your files and provide automated alerts when updates are needed. So, there’s far less chance of a driver’s physical exams being overlooked, or of old information not being properly removed from the DQF as required.

DQMConnect™ from VLC simplifies DQ file management, and helps you avoid costly fines! Contact us to learn more about how DQMConnect can protect your operation!

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