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Loss Control Insights for Petroleum Marketers

Hiring Safe Drivers: A How-To Guide

In many areas of the country, unemployment is currently at record low levels. That’s great news for job hunters, but not so great news for employers trying to fill openings with quality candidates. It can be tempting to let your hiring standards slide, but it’s important to stay selective when deciding who to put in safety sensitive positions like drivers, especially if your driving positions involve operating very large vehicles full of hazardous materials.

Why You Shouldn’t Settle

The employees who drive your vehicles are a reflection of your brand, so who you put behind the wheel matters. Negative roadway incidents, from minor road rage to major collisions, can have far-reaching impact for the drivers involved and for the financial wellbeing of your company.

Driver error is responsible for up to 94% of auto accidents, so the most effective way to prevent collisions is to carefully choose the people in the driver’s seat.

Deciding Which Drivers are Acceptable

If you don’t already have one, start by creating a comprehensive fleet safety program that includes consistent standards for both experienced and potential employees. Your driver criteria should include who is eligible to drive a company vehicle, how to handle accidents and the training required for company drivers.

Evaluating a Driver’s History to Protect Your Future

A driver’s past behavior is a strong indicator of how they will behave in the future, so it’s important to evaluate each candidate’s motor vehicle record (MVR) during the hiring process. The driver criteria in your fleet safety program should clearly list which offenses are cause for disqualifying an applicant. For instance, beware if:

  • The driver’s license is currently suspended or revoked
  • The driver does not have at least one year of verifiable driving experience—it’s preferable to have at least two years’ experience with the kind of vehicle they will be operating
  • In the past three years, the driver has had more than two at-fault accidents, three moving violations or two moving violations plus one at-fault accident

Candidates with any of the following violations on their MVR within the last five years should be disqualified from the hiring process:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Using a vehicle to commit a felony
  • Hit and run/leaving the scene of an accident
  • Fleeing/eluding police or resisting arrest
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding more than 15 mph over limit
  • Open container violations
  • Operating vehicles with a suspended/revoked license
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Refusing a field sobriety test

Onboarding Practices for Driver Success

Every new hire should read your fleet safety program and have a chance to ask questions. It’s also a good idea to provide initial and ongoing training to all drivers on topics such as defensive driving, driver fatigue and distracted driving. For tank truck drivers, information about preventing rollovers is valuable. Cover your basic expectations, such as wearing a seat belt always, obeying traffic laws and avoiding any kind of distracted driving. Drivers subject to DOT regulations should be informed of additional rules they need to follow.

For new drivers, or existing drivers who will be driving a different type of vehicle for the first time, offer ride-alongs with an experienced, safe company driver. After these demonstrations, some hands-on practice operating the vehicle while an experienced driver observes and provides feedback is also a great way to ensure your trainees are prepared for the open road.

Making a List

Keeping track of your qualified drivers is much easier if you maintain an actual list. Include the following information:

  • Driver name
  • Driver license number
  • Driver license type(s)
  • Endorsements
  • Date of hire
  • Date of last MVR check
  • Date of driver trainings

Include on this list any employees who use their personal vehicle for company businesses. Recheck the records of all drivers at least annually, or consider subscribing to a driver monitoring service so you are up-to-date on driver eligibility at all times.

Dealing with Disqualified Drivers

Existing drivers may incur a violation during their employment that prevents them from meeting your established driver criteria. These drivers should be disqualified from driving company vehicles until they once again meet your driving history standards. When disqualified drivers regain their eligible status, they should complete a driver improvement class before being placed on your active driver list.

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