IMPROPER DRIVER HIRING practices can lead to a variety of problems, including tragic accidents, costly lawsuits, not to mention stiff fines and penalties, and can jeopardize a motor carrier’s future. Ensure that your driving hiring program is up to par by addressing two essential points.
First, you must be in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations concerning driver hiring, which clearly state “a person must not drive a CMV unless he or she is qualified to drive a CMV.” Every driver considered for hire must be carefully scrutinized to ensure they meet FMCSA’s criteria. The general qualifications of drivers are outlined in § 391.11; disqualification of drivers is found in § 391.15.
Motor carriers that hire commercially licensed drivers must follow the minimum screening requirements outlined in § 391.23: Investigation and inquiries. This investigation includes, but is not limited to:
• An inquiry to previous employers regarding the driver’s safety performance history and drug/alcohol violation history for the preceding three years.
• A review of the driver’s motor vehicle records (MVR) during the preceding three years.
• Pre-employment drug and alcohol testing (refer to 49 CFR Part 40).
• A road test (or equivalent). Why Compliance & Consistency Matter When Hiring Drivers
• Proof of medical fitness to drive a CMV – Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate, if applicable.
In addition to federal requirements, you must also be familiar with your state’s regulations regarding the hiring process. Employment laws and rules that relate to human resource management vary state to state, and you need to make sure that those regulations are also followed accordingly. You may consult your State Labor Office for more information.
Furthermore, you should consider conducting additional background checks to screen applicants for a history of criminal activity, violence and fraud. Employers doing so may help protect themselves from potential litigation resulting from negligent hiring.
Unfortunately, in light of today’s shortage of qualified drivers, some good, even great, motor carriers are feeling pressure to rush the hiring process. As a result, they may be tempted to neglect following the regulations and overlook some things they normally wouldn’t, simply to satisfy company demands. This behavior, however, is all too often discovered following an accident. An overlooked past employment inquiry, a disregarded MVR or a failure to conduct a pre-hiring road test, including conducting the test in a vehicle similar to that which the driver will be operating, can become significant issues in a post-accident lawsuit against your company.
In order to help avoid these pitfalls, be sure to periodically review the federal regulations and check them against your internal hiring process. You must also make sure that any employees that are involved in the hiring of drivers are properly trained in your company’s procedures and that all guidelines are being strictly followed. Also keep in mind that if any revisions are made to your company’s procedures, those changes must be well communicated to everyone involved.
The second point that companies must address regarding their driver hiring program is that internal hiring guidelines and procedures must be administered consistently to each and every applicant without prejudice toward color, race, religion, gender or any other criteria considered unlawful by state, federal or local law. All of the hiring steps should be in writing, and present a clear picture of a well thought-out, uniformly-administered, regulatory-compliant hiring process. Failure to do so may become a significant issue in a lawsuit. Consistency also plays an important role when it comes to handling human resource issues and discrimination complaints.
While hiring the right driver can be a time-consuming task, only a regulatory-compliant, uniformly-administered driver hiring process can help ensure the company is getting the safest, most knowledgeable employees to drive its vehicles.
Re-Published with permission. This article was originally written and published by:
LANCER INSURANCE COMPANY
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