Vigilant Hiring Crucial for Transportation Risk Management

Published on Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:27
Truck - Transportation Risk Management

For transportation business owners, risk management is about reducing industry claims. It’s about getting goods from Point A to Point B without incident. And much of it boils down to who’s behind the wheel.

When trucks can be lethal giants

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, (DOT) there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2012. Fatalities in crashes involving large trucks showed a 4 percent increase in 2012 compared to 2011. In these accidents, 73% of those hurt and/or killed were occupants of other vehicles.

Reducing claims: Five steps to hiring vigilantly

You might think the best way to reduce transportation industry claims is to invest in driver training. But that line of thinking falls short: It assumes that drivers get in accidents due to a lack of skill. That may be true for some, but for other drivers, skill is not the problem.

Careless driving, for example, can cause just as much damage as unskilled driving – even when the driver knows all the right answers. So if you can’t rely on skill tests alone, how can you confirm you’re hiring the right candidate? Below are a few proactive measures to consider:

  1. Conduct comprehensive prescreening. Statistics show that clean backgrounds correlate to good behavior behind the wheel. Look for drivers whose violations and accidents fall below the survey median; this has been connected to a significant reduction of crash rates. Also, go beyond a check of the Commercial Drivers License Information System and also include comprehensive pre-employment screenings and criminal background checks. Verify all information provided in the application process.
  1. Use hair for drug screening. While urine has long been the chosen medium for drug testing, hair is quickly gaining preference as it detects illegal substances in one’s system over a longer period of time. It may also be harder to falsify results.
  1. Take speeding seriously. Scan for speeding tickets. Three strikes, they’re out. According to DOT, 18% of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012 had at least one prior speeding conviction. A Liberty Mutual survey of trucking companies found that company fleets in which 60% of drivers hold clear motor vehicle records had a 42% lower crash rate than companies with fewer clear drivers.
  1. Use the two-hour rule. Make your drive test a long one – two hours or more – and your candidate’s long-term habits are more likely to reveal themselves.
  1. Use the six-month rule. Short probations – three months or fewer – are too short. Set your trial period at six months or longer. The Liberty Mutual survey found that companies with probations of six months or longer had a 26% lower crash rate.

It can be tempting to rush the screening process, especially if you’re facing a shortage of qualified drivers. The pressures you navigate while recruiting may be intense. Still, the numbers show that if you invest the time to find the right driver up-front, it will pay off in the long run. Negligent hiring suits are on the rise and proactive screening is your first line of defense.

Risk management is crucial to protecting your bottom line. At Heffernan, we specialize in helping transportation companies control their total cost of risk: click here to learn more.