By Brandon Wiseman, President, Trucksafe Consulting, LLC – September 2022
A lot goes into qualifying a regulated driver: applications, motor vehicle reports, license checks, drug tests...and the list goes on!
One particularly critical component of the driver qualification process is the past employment verifications that prospective motor carrier employers must make on every driver applicant. Of course, to conduct these verifications, carriers must first know for whom an applicant has worked in the past. But how far in the past must driver applicants go when filling out their employment history? Turns out, the answer to this question is somewhat convoluted. Some will tell you that regulated drivers must provide a full 10-year employment history on their application, but that's not exactly true. Let's break it down:
Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) contains the minimum qualification standards for interstate drivers. Section 391.21 requires that all regulated drivers complete an application anytime they apply to drive for a new carrier. And that same regulation establishes what information must be collected in those applications, including things like the applicant's name, date of birth, license type and number, etc. You can check out the full list here.
When it comes to employment history, the regulation says that all applicants must provide "a list of the names and addresses of the applicant's employers during the 3 years preceding the date the application is submitted." For any such employers, the applicant must also provide (1) the dates he/she was employed; (2) the reason for leaving those employers; and (3) whether the job was subject to the FMCSRs and drug/alcohol testing. See 49 CFR 391.21(b)(10).
Easy enough, right?! Unfortunately, here's where things start to go off the rails. Subsection (11) of the same regulation goes on to say that a certain category of driver applicants-namely those seeking a driving position that requires a commercial driver's license (CDL) – must provide some additional employment-history information. Specifically, in addition to their initial 3-year employment history, CDL drivers must list an additional 7 years' worth of employment history (for a total of 10), but only for any employers for whom the applicant "was an operator of a commercial motor vehicle."
Put differently, applicants for CDL positions must provide an initial 3 years' worth of employment history for ALL previous work (i.e., not just driving positions) PLUS an additional 7 years' worth of driving-related employment history. In contrast, applicants for non-CDL positions need only provide the initial full 3 years' worth of employment history.
Part 391 of the FMCSRs addresses what prospective employers are to do with this previous employment history, including contacting previous employers to verify employment. So, it's imperative that carriers obtain the correct information from prospective drivers in the first place.
Contrary to some beliefs that carriers must obtain a full 10 years' worth of employment history from all driver applicants, Section 391.21 of the FMCSRs actually requires carriers to obtain a full 3 years' worth of employment history from all applicants and an additional 7 years' worth of driving work history from those seeking a CDL position.
About Brandon Wiseman
Brandon is a transportation attorney, safety consultant, and the founder of Trucksafe Consulting. Over the years, he has had the privilege of representing some of the nation's leading motor carriers and transportation providers on matters relating to USDOT safety and compliance.