Safety Advisor: Selecting Good Drivers

Here are some key points to consider when reviewing prospective drivers:

  • Damage or loss of a vehicle or cargo is expensive in terms of repairs, replacement, delays and customer relations.
  • Large liabilities can be created by careless or negligent operation of your company vehicles.
  • Your driver is frequently your most visible company representative to the public and your customers. As such, your driver creates the image of your company.
  • Close supervision of drivers is rarely possible. As soon as they leave your premises they are on their own coping with the traffic, weather and road conditions.

To protect your company’s assets and reputation, you should determine the following about a prospective driver:

  • Personal attributes
  • Physical abilities, per the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements
  • Driving knowledge and experience
  • Prior accident information
  • Prior Hours of Service, equipment and traffic violations received in roadside inspections

The following items are essential to an effective driver selection program:

Application – Use a form to secure personal, educational and work experience data. Obtain driver’s license number and expiration date, accident and citation record, and release forms for obtaining medical records, motor vehicle records (MVR), etc.

Interview – Verify data on application. Use a checklist and record responses. Visually check for valid driver’s license. Discuss prior accidents, moving violations and roadside inspection violations. Explain nature of job and answer the applicant’s questions.

Reference Checks – Check all references to determine prior driving and work performance for the prior three years. A telephone check is usually faster and more candid. Use a checklist and record results.

MVR – Request the applicant’s violation and accident record from all appropriate state agencies. Accidents, serious or frequent traffic violations may be indicative of future performance.

Pre-employment Screening Record – Consider using the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program available at After obtaining the applicant’s authorization and paying a small fee, you can view that applicant’s specific safety performance (including all roadside inspection results) for the prior three years. A high frequency of inspection violations can indicate future performance issues.

Driving Test – Applicants should be given a driving test in a vehicle similar to the one used on the job over a route similar to the regular route. Performance should be evaluated based on demonstrated driving skill and ability.

Physical Examination – Applicants for driving positions, who are otherwise qualified, may need a physical examination. The doctor performing it should be informed of the nature of the job (and any critical or essential functions) and should identify any condition which could affect the applicant’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. (The Department of Transportation examination, required for all interstate drivers, is a good approach for any driver.)

Probationary Period – A probationary period is often used as a condition of employment for drivers. A period of 90 days provides management adequate time to observe job performance.

Personnel File – All of the above evaluations and procedures should be recorded and retained for each applicant. Application files for qualified drivers not hired should be kept for consideration against future needs.

There are many rules and regulations from federal and state agencies which prohibit discrimination in hiring practices. It is possible to unknowingly discriminate unless you are fully familiar with such rules. You should obtain the advice and counsel of your human resources department or legal counsel in all hiring activities.

The Department of Transportation may also have restrictions on who can drive for you. Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,001 pounds, vehicles transporting 15 or more people, or vehicles transporting hazardous materials which require placarding, require additional endorsements on the commercial driver’s license. Individual states may have stricter regulations. Contact your local Department of Transportation for further details on your state’s requirements.

Successful and profitable vehicle operations start with drivers who are capable and committed to following company safety policies and operating procedures. An effective driver selection program is the first and most important step toward identifying that caliber driver.

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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