“Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.” — Lao Tzu
Managing the Easy
How does one ‘anticipate the difficult by managing the easy’ in the realm of motor vehicles?
One place to start is with written hiring standards. What is the minimum age and level of experience necessary for the job? How many tickets or collisions can a new driver have and still be eligible for the job? What kind of prior convictions should be disqualifying for the job? How far back should you look at their past driving history? Should any criminal convictions be disqualifying?
Answers to these questions will vary depending upon your operations. Certain driving jobs require a higher level of experience and higher standards.
Once you have your written hiring standards down, the next step is a road test. This is not always done or done correctly. “Yeah, we ride with them,” is not a road test. Coaching someone on the route is not a road test. A 100% pass rate is not a road test.
If the driver is a CDL driver, they need to take a pre-employment DOT drug screen and the results need to get back before that driver is put on the road.
Every DOT regulated driver should fill out a DOT application for employment.
A background investigation is also required. Any employment gaps should be looked at. Prior employment needs to be verified. The whole process needs to be documented.
A DOT regulated driver needs a medical certificate (DOT physical) from an approved medical examiner.
It’s a good idea to inform your new hire on how things are done at your organization by means of some sort of orientation. At a simple level, this might mean going over some basic policies and procedures:
- Cell phones and electronic devices policy
- Passenger policy
- Drugs and Alcohol policy
- Personal Use of Work Vehicles policy
Many insurance companies require written acknowledgments of these policies, signed by the employee. Don’t wait for your risk partner to nudge you in this direction . . .
Orientation might include a discussion of safety including defensive driving, load securement and what to do in the event of a collision. Do you have an employee manual? That, too, can be gone over in detail.
On the Road
Once the road, the driver paperwork does not end. A system needs to be in place to collect hours of service documentation (logs or time cards) and records of vehicle inspections or roadside inspections.
A DOT accident file needs to be in place for DOT recordables.
Event recorders (as cameras) are now becoming standard equipment at larger fleets, because most of the time they can prove the commercial motor vehicle was not at fault.
Savvy companies have a preventable accident program in place. Each incident and collision is carefully looked at for preventability, not only during any probationary periods, but throughout the driver’s career at the organization.
Safety can be emphasized and reinforced with safety reward programs and safety incentives.
It’s the little things that can make a big difference in safety. The little things make managing the difficult become easy . . .
Thank you for reading this.