What is a DQ File?
In short, a DQ File (Driver Qualification File) is the employee file you must have on every driver of a CMV. Regardless of whether or not they have a CDL. This is FMCSA specific documents not you regular employee/HR docs.
Three Tips for creating and maintaining DQ Files
1. Have all of the documents not just the minimum requirements.
Out of all the DQ File Checklist's out there, you would think you would be able to find one that made sense. You can search all over and find different checklists, some have 9 required documents and some have 15, just depends on what you are looking at. Here's bottom line; the FMCSA/DOT regulations are minimum requirements. They do not let you in on the best practices, extra forms you should have, and give you the reasons why you should be doing them. Not to mention that there are a lot of random requirements for drivers spread throughout the regulations that you or the driver must do to be truly compliant. When you put them all together it is a heck of a lot more than just 9-15 pages.
When we finish a fully processed driver we have roughly 56 pages in that drivers file. 26 of those pages are those that the driver actually fills out. The application alone is at minimum 4 pages long. Here is a link to our FREE E-BOOK it includes a checklist utilizing our 6 tab folder system.
2. Properly vet your applicants.
Don’t rely on what the driver said on their application. We have seen multiple times where drivers filled out the application and forgot to disclose some key issues that would have made them ineligible for a driving position. Think of yourself as a private detective when looking at an applicant for a driving position. Run the PSP, MVR and complete a Risk Rating on that applicant. Also, don't forget to validate the previous employer information against those reports. There are multiple ways of validating information, it just takes a bit of work, but it is worth it.
You may be compliant with the FMCSA regulations but still find yourself in a pickle if you end up in litigation. There are many ways an opposing attorney will try and prove you were negligent in some way. Going above and beyond the minimum requirements is key to avoid it.
3. Learn all the ins & outs of DQ Files
Take an ONLINE COURSE that is all about Driver Qualification. This is not just about what forms you need to have, but what each form means, which ones are required and what you you need to do to avoid potential issues in case of litigation. It includes all of the forms you need, an up to date training video and a detailed step by step process to get your DQ files not only compliant but prepared for anything. Even if you are using a software whether it be DOTReady or another platform, you still need to know why you are requiring drivers to do all of the things that are required of them.
What risks do non-compliant DQ files bring?
Just one missing signature can bring huge fines
During an audit with a client quite a few years ago I found a document with a missing signature. It isn't that out of the 80+ driver files they looked at all of them had missing signatures. It was one signature on one document that was missing and it cost that company a $10,000 fine. I had shown the error to them, asked them if they could get the driver in to sign off (which was completely legal to do). The client didn't see the importance of taking the time to have the driver stop for a few minutes to sign the doc and send it back. When they received the fine, I was surprised at their response; "Well, that is the cost of doing business, could have been worse". I am not okay with any of my clients getting fines and it bothers me when I hear comments like that. They could have been violation free, no fines and a Satisfactory Rating. Maybe, just consider what taking a few extra minutes to make sure your files are 100% will save you, not what kind of fines you are okay with.
Be a DQ File NINJA! Double check all DQ files before putting them in the file cabinet, as we process driver files for clients we have another person double check and sometimes we triple check before we put the file away. Sometimes when a person does the same job for a long period of time they can get complacent. Things happen and it isn't that they don't know or want to do their job well, it's just things get missed sometimes. We decided that was how we would do things when we used paper files. We figured out a better way to do things with DOTReady. We created a digital DQ file that doesn't allow those $10,000 missing signatures at all.
Get the training on proper Driver Qualification that you really need. Look, we know that trying to figure everything out needs to be easier. When I started over 20 years ago Google didn’t even exist, there were hardly any resources available and the FMCSA didn’t help much either. They were great at issuing huge fines though. That is why I made it my mission to help you not make the same mistakes I did.
So to help me in that mission and by a lot of client requests, I created our online training program.
Learn about all of the forms that are needed in a DQ File (both required & best practice)
Learn Key Points Investigators Look for During an Audit
Insights on things that are regularly missed when vetting drivers
Bundle Up & Save Of course you can purchase each course individually, but you can also bundle them together for almost 50% off the price you would pay for all courses separately!
Driver Processing Services
Don’t have time to spend what it takes to fully vet a potential driver? We have you covered. We have several clients that use our services for driver processing. We created a program that takes that burden off of you and your team. CONTACT US for more information.
A LOT FASTER to get a driver properly vetted
We can process just one driver or multiple drivers as you need it
No Contracts, No Commitments, Pay per File
CONTACT US if you have questions or to find out about other services we offer. I promise not to be a pushy salesperson or offer anything that won't actually help you!
Tyna Bryan is the CEO of D.O.T. Readiness Group and DOTReady Software. With 20+ years of experience working in the industry, Tyna has owned and managed several companies as well as consulted for hundreds of companies all over the United States. If you get the chance to meet Tyna, she's a spitfire who knows her stuff! She has been consulting and training on DOT compliance and regulations exclusively since 2009.