FAQs answered by Daren Hansen I was told that DVIRs need to be kept for one year. Is that true?
No, in most cases. Under §396.11, completed drivers’ vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) must be kept for at least three months. However, §396.3 requires motor carriers to keep a record of repairs for 12 months. Therefore, if a DVIR is your only documentation that a defect was found and repaired, then it should be kept for 12 months. In most cases, a DVIR that records a defect will result in additional documentation for the repair, such as a work order, parts invoice/receipt, etc., in which case the DVIR can be discarded after three months (as long as the additional documents are kept for 12 months). Some of our drivers are always on the road. When and how can we notify them they’ve been selected for a random test? Can we use email?
The rules don’t specify how to notify drivers, but email or text would be problematic if there is no way to confirm (and document) whether or when the driver received the notice. Once notified, these drivers must proceed to the testing site immediately (or “as soon as possible” if they’re doing on-duty work other than driving), and you must be able to confirm that they did that. For that reason, a phone call is preferred.
Don’t spill the beans too soon, however. Before telling the driver about the test, chat about what they’re doing, so you can confirm that they’re available to “drop everything and go” for testing. If they’re tied up, you should wait for another time or day, as long as the test is done within that testing cycle.
As for when to notify a driver, a drug test can be ordered at any time but an alcohol test is allowed only while, just before, or just after a driver performs safety-sensitive functions. Your telephone chat with the driver should tell you if those conditions are met. We have short-haul truck drivers who do not use logs. Some of them have second jobs, including overnight 8-hour shifts. Do I need a record of those hours?
Yes. All time spent working for a motor carrier and all compensated time spent working for a non-motor carrier is considered “on duty” time, even for drivers who do not use logs. This is based on the definition of “on-duty time” in §395.2. A driver who uses the 100- or 150-air-mile exception in §395.1(e) is still required to have 10 consecutive hours off duty between shifts. Therefore, you do need to have documentation of the hours spent working a second job, and documentation confirming that the driver had 10 hours off before going back to driving for you. Can drivers cross state lines and still use the short-haul exception if they stay within the 100/150-air-mile radius?
Yes, drivers can cross state lines and still use the 100- or 150-air-mile exception in §395.1(e), as long as they follow the terms of the exception. The short-haul exceptions are federal rules for drivers engaged in interstate commerce (across state lines). Is it a violation if a driver uses the cab or sleeper-berth area for transporting items that will not fit in the trailer?
Section 393.76 has specifications for sleeper berths but does not say how they can be used. There are no rules prohibiting cargo or other items within the cab or sleeper berth. Section 392.9, however, does say that a commercial motor vehicle may only be operated if:
The vehicle’s cargo is properly distributed and adequately secured as specified in Part 393,
All “equipment” used in the vehicle’s operation is secured, and
The vehicle’s cargo or “any other object” does not obscure the driver’s view ahead or to the right or left sides …, interfere with the free movement of his/her arms or legs, prevent his/her free and ready access to accessories required for emergencies, or prevent the free and ready exit of any person from the commercial motor vehicle’s cab or driver’s compartment.”
Also be aware that during a roadside inspection, loose items in the cab could be seen as a safety hazard. Whenever possible, cargo should be secured in the trailer or another area designed for cargo.
Products written by Daren Hansen
Transportation Regulatory Alert
FMCSA Compliance Manual