Motor vehicle records (MVRs) are a necessary component in ensuring proper fleet management. They can also provide invaluable information, with a wealth of driver insight just waiting to be discovered.

Companies with commercially licensed drivers especially know the value of CDL MVRs. With yearly requirements from regulatory bodies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) to pull MVRs for CDL drivers, the action is a necessary occurrence for fleets.

The FMCSA requires fleet management which, if falling to the wayside, opens up the potential for significant impact on Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores and subsequently unforeseen risk. To help break down one aspect of the nuanced FMCSA MVR requirements, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding MVRs for CDL drivers.

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The most common CDL MVR questions – answered

What does a CDL MVR show?

A CDL MVR goes through any endorsements related to passenger cars, motorcycles, commercial trucks and buses. Although the information at times varies, CDL MVRs provide insight into:

  • Crash reports
  • Traffic violations
  • DUI convictions
  • License suspensions
  • Vehicular crimes
  • Unpaid summons
  • Insurance lapses

It’s important to keep in mind that, when considering information found on a CDL MVR, driver history is a predictor of future inherent risk. Prior crashes, violations and suspensions are solid indicators of potential behavior you can expect.

How often should you pull MVRs?

FMCSA MVR regulations require carriers to pull and review a driver’s MVR before hiring them, with a subsequent mandated pull every 12 months. This is the bare minimum effort required to remain compliant under federal law.

However, doing the minimum is a risky way to manage fleet safety. Having large gaps between CDL MVR pulls or relying on self-reporting can leave your company vulnerable to liability.

Manual MVR pulls as an antiquated solution

Being in an industry plagued by poor driver retention and high turnover means that, for every MVR pulled, there’s an upfront and yearly cost associated with it. Compound the expense of manual CDL MVR pulls alongside the cost of hiring and onboarding new employees, and suddenly you’re in the red.

MVR pulls aren’t a lost cause, though, and there are technological solutions that modernize the antiquated paper MVR, including states where your drivers receive the most violations or problem weigh stations.

Is an MVR check all that’s needed before hiring a driver?

No. While an MVR for your CDL driver and commercial driving record are the best indicators of safe-driving and risk potential, it’s not the only record you should be checking to build a complete candidate profile.

6 additional ways to build a complete candidate profile

Checking off the below list ensures that you’re building a complete candidate profile. Although many of these are required by the FMCSA as part of your pre-hire screening, in the long run, you’ll better protect your company from hiring the wrong drivers:

  • Criminal records checks. Put added weight on motor vehicle-related convictions or convictions for controlled substances.
  • Drug and alcohol tests. Legally required by the FMCSA, the Department of Transportation has a standard drug panel needing to be run pre-employment. Maintain these standard drug panels during the course of employment.
  • Employment verification. Verify work records as an indication to your driver’s potential as a reliable employee.
  • License checks. Applicants need to have the right type of valid license, meaning it cannot be suspended, revoked or have any severe restrictions. Utilize tools like driver monitoring so you can stay on top of your employee license status year-round.
  • Physical health exam. Another FMCSA requirement, this ensures applicants are healthy enough to drive for long periods of time.
  • Pre-employment screening program records and scores. Created to help streamline driver information for employers, combined with MVRs, pre-employment screening program records and scores gives employers a complete picture of an applicant’s driving history. 

Stay on top of your CDL MVRs

Although you may be satisfied with your fleet’s behavior on the surface, understand that, despite the wealth of information those yearly MVR pulls seem to have, they’re only providing you with a snapshot in time. After all, at-hire and annual MVRs for CDL drivers are a part of the current reality that make up the trucking industry’s regulatory obligations.

Failing to meet such obligations can result in a number of consequences and while these methodical MVR pulls are part of good-natured rule following, they also leave your fleet open to unforeseen risk.

To learn more about the present state of trucking, the legal landscape, how regulatory obligations – including CDL MVRs – contribute to the industry’s current outlook, better ways to vet your drivers and more, download our white paper, Why Continuous Monitoring Matters.