By P. Sean Garney of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting LLC & Regulatory Consultant to DriverReach – April 2022
In March 2022, FMCSA issued a final rule eliminating the requirement that drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce prepare and submit a list of their convictions for traffic violations to their employers annually (49 CFR §391.27). The rule is effective on May 9, 2022.
In its justification for the removal, FMCSA noted that the requirement is duplicative of the existing rule (§391.25(a)) that requires motor carriers to annually obtain the motor vehicle record (MVR) for each driver it employs from every State in which the driver holds or has held a CMV operator's license or permit in the past year.
Additionally, with this rulemaking action, in order to ensure motor carriers are aware of traffic convictions for a driver who is licensed by a foreign authority (e.g. Canadian and Mexican licensing authorities), FMCSA is requiring motor carriers to make an annual inquiry to each driver's licensing authority where a driver holds or has held a CMV operator's license or permit. FMCSA expects this change will save the industry $3.5 million annually from drivers and carriers not having to fulfill this requirement.
Sadly, FMCSA failed to respond to requests by DriverReach and others to update long-standing guidance to allow motor carriers who are enrolled in an employee notification system that pushes updates to carriers when data is added, removed, or changed on a driver’s MVR, to substitute it for the annual MVR requirement. The benefit of these systems far outweighs the benefit of an annual MVR rule considering a new conviction added to a driver's record just after the annual MVR pull could remain undiscovered by the carrier until their next MVR pull, almost a year later.
One important item to note is the effective date of the rule. Motor carriers are required to obtain a record of violation from each driver once per year, meaning if the last MVR was obtained before May 9, 2021, they’ll need to obtain another before May 9, 2022, to remain compliant. Annual MVRs are still required and FMCSA investigators are definitely keying on it: in 2021 two of the top four acute violations cited during FMCSA Compliance Investigations were for allowing a driver to operate with a suspended/revoked CDL and allowing a driver with more than one CDL to drive a CMV. So, it is important that you are staying diligent and continually monitoring your drivers.
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