How To Hire Safe Drivers; A Driver Recruitment Process

Mar 12, 2021 | Business Insurance

Are you looking to add drivers to your fleet? Are you nervous and want to hire quality drivers?

You are not alone. If you want to avoid accidents, you need to ensure that your fleet is staffed with safe drivers.

Choosing the right drivers for your company during the recruitment process is extremely important. Check out these tips for hiring safe drivers.

Starting the Recruitment Process

Hiring a driver is a big responsibility. Before you even begin posting the job or starting the recruitment process, you need to understand what qualifications and attributes you are looking for in a potential candidate.

New Hire Checklist

A new hire checklist can help bring a lot of clarity to the recruitment process. This checklist can also be used throughout the driver’s career to assess the quality and the safety of their driving. The checklist should include details like the following:

  • Motor vehicle records over the past 3 years
  • Road test and certification
  • Safety performance history
  • Medical certification
  • Proof that the medical examiner is on the national registry
  • A negative drug and alcohol test
  • Any documentation showing the previous drug and alcohol testing
  • Other company-specific information that you want to know about their personality and other qualities

Having these documents from the applicant and knowing exactly what you are looking for takes a lot of the guesswork out of hiring a new driver.

Set the Bar High

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, sets safety standards and regulations for the hiring of fleet drivers. When you start the recruiting process, you should already be familiar with the standards set by FMCSA. You can also go above and beyond to ensure the safety of your fleet.

The minimum for driving requirements is typically two years. Set the bar for your company to be three years plus of driving experience.

Contact your fleet insurance company and set standards so you know who the insurance will cover and what type of hire will affect your insurance rates.

There are also regulations for the number of violations that drivers can have before they are suspended. Get in front of that and create a scoring system based on violations. If you see a candidate who has a specific number of violations over a specific amount of time, disqualify them.

Come Up With the Right Questions

During the actual interview, it is going to be imperative to ask the right questions. Asking open-ended questions forces the perspective driver to give a more in-depth answer.

Start asking questions like “Say you are running late, how would you keep the other company satisfied without rushing and forgoing safety?” This makes them think on the spot. They also might tell you real-life situations where this has happened to them, which gives you history and references.

It is also helpful to ask them what they have done to improve their driving skills over the years. You can assess their dedication and how serious they are about their career and their driving.

It’s All in the Details

There are some other small things that you can review to help you weed out the applicants that are just not right for your fleet.

How did they fill out the application? Did they fill out the form completely and thoroughly? The applicant should be able to understand directions that are given verbally and also written instructions.

You should also take a look at any driving restrictions that the driver may have. These driving restrictions could be something like corrective lenses or glasses. Maybe they cannot drive at night.

If any of those restrictions are a deal-breaker for you, you can move on right away onto the next applicant.

Even other little details like if they are on time for the interview can make a big difference depending on the applicant.

Side Note

Today, everything is done digitally. When you are looking to start the hiring process, use technology to your advantage. If you want to find the most qualified and skilled drivers for your fleet, putting the application online will help you.

It also streamlines the process. Someone can fill out an application, send it in, and if you do not like them for the job, you keep moving. If you do like them, the FMCSA is allowing online signatures. So getting the background check started is faster and more efficient.

You eliminate unnecessary phone calls or in-person interviews when you use online applications. Online forms are an easy way of applying and communicating.

Do Your Due Diligence

In 2013, motor vehicle crashes cost U.S. employers over $25 billion. That number should tell you that hiring a driver that is safe and dependable is more important than ever.

During the recruitment process, there are several things that you can do to ensure that you are hiring a truly skilled driver for your fleet. You can complete reference checks, do extensive background checks and drug screenings, and comb through the appliances MVR records.

Reference Checks and Previous Employers

If an applicant has been driving for a longer period, accidents and other violations will not appear on their motor vehicle records. You will not be able to see anything that is older than three years.

That is why it is so important to talk to previous employers. The past employers will be able to give you a good idea of the driver’s history and performance.

You may also find discrepancies. If an applicant is trying to hide being fired or any arguments that may have occurred, checking employment dates can help you find the truth.

Other things that you should be asking the previous employer are, how long the driver was employed with them and how many accidents they were in. Asking about their overall driving performance will be helpful as well. Like the questions you ask the applicant, ask open-ended questions to the references to see how they answer.

Background Checks and Drug Screening

According to records, 28,445 drivers have had one drug or alcohol violation while driving. 26,433 are still in a prohibited status, so they can not get back to work until they complete the return-to-duty process.

The return-to-duty process is identified by the clearinghouse. Clearinghouse is a secure online database that helps employers and law enforcement to identify drivers who have broken any law regarding drug or alcohol testing. Employers are required to check this database before hiring any drivers for their fleet.

So when you have an applicant, ask them if they have a clearinghouse account. If they do not, you will need to encourage them to register, as it will save you time later in the process.

Employment must be depended on if the applicant has a negative Department of Transportation drug and alcohol test. If you do these background and drug screening tests, it is known that on average a fleet could have a 17% lower “driver out-of-service” rate.

Driving Test

Now, just because a driving applicant has good credentials does not always mean that they are a good driver. The one sure-fire way to figure out how well the candidate drives is to administer a driving test.

The test should not be too long, yet it should have a lot of possible scenarios that they might run into during a route. While the road test does not have to be arduous, you will get a good sense of their aptitude for driving.

Another skillset that is good to test before hiring is their knowledge. Test them on rules of the road, emergency procedures, safety precautions, and operation of the vehicles.

MVR Records

MVR or motor vehicle records, are going to be what truly demonstrates a good driver, one that you can feel safe having on your fleet. When a prospective driver comes for the interview, they should have the motor vehicle records with them.

They should have a minimum of a 3-year history. However, seeing a 5-year history is much preferred. An older, more experienced driver is dedicated to the career and has more real-time experience.

Seeing these records will tell you if there were ever extreme violations or accidents.

This goes without saying, but a suspended license means that they cannot legally drive and the candidate is automatically disqualified.

Here are some red flags that show up on an MVR that should always eliminate the candidate from the hiring process immediately:

  • A violation that is connected to a fatal accident
  • A felony involving the use of a vehicle
  • Permitting an unlicensed driver to drive the vehicle
  • Speeding over 20 miles per hour over the legal speed limit
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Driving of the vehicle without the businesses or owners permission
  • Failure to report an accident
  • Driving under the influence of illegal substances

There are other red flags such as reckless driving, racing, eluding an officer while in the vehicle. So do your homework and know the severity of motor vehicle violations.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if they have three or more moving violations in three years, you should not consider the candidate, regardless of the severity of the violation.

The Work Does Not Stop There

The recruitment process is critical. Making sure that you hire the right drivers is extremely important. However, a fleet safety program is going to be what keeps your drivers safe and reduces your liability.

By establishing a safe driving program you can minimize crash risk and also continue to train your drivers. Here is a 10-step program that OSHA recommends:

  1. Senior management and employee involvement
  2. Written policies and procedures
  3. Diver agreements
  4. motor vehicle record checks
  5. Crash reporting
  6. Vehicle selection
  7. Disciplinary action system
  8. Reward or incentive program
  9. Driver training and communication
  10. Regulatory compliance

Having training as well as policies and procedures put into place will ensure that you prepare yourself for any situation. These safety programs also allow you to have all the proper paperwork filled out and completed.

Thank Yourself Later

By coming up with a checklist, coming up with questions, and checking all legal documentation and records you can rest assured that the drivers will be a great addition to your team. Then having a fleet safety program for current drivers helps keep them up to speed and well trained.

While this process seems rather lengthy, you will be thanking yourself later. Did you know that fleet vehicle accidents are the most costly injury claims? So you can reduce the cost of loss by a lot!

Let’s say that something like an accident does still occur. You can significantly lower your liability if effective screening and training of the driver were completed. You did your due diligence.

Not to mention, with great drivers comes great business! If the driving on the road is safe and the driver reaches their destination on time, you are boosting your business’s reputation and image. It’s a win-win!

Stay Safe and Stay Covered!

The recruitment process is critical when building a fleet. If you have good drivers, you will have a good business. If you follow the tips given to you in this article, you will be able to find the best drivers for your fleet.

Stop spending time worrying about whether or not your drivers are going to stay safe or get to a delivery location on time. Stay focused on more pressing matters at work!

Having well-trained drivers is important, and having the best coverage and insurance is equally important. Contact us today to make sure you get the best insurance for your fleet!