NY State DMV Records

E-DriverFileAccording to a recent article in Heavy Duty Trucking (click HERE), the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is making additional information available to prosecutors about a driver’s ticket history.

Specifically:

The information will be available for tickets issued during the past 10 years when the original charge was a point bearing violation, a drug or alcohol related offense, or was for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Currently, only data on convictions is available to prosecutors.

The article in HDT offers this explanation of why this is important:

Many times when a motorist goes to court, the original ticket is pled down to a lesser charge, according to a release. Often this is done because the prosecutor or the Another example of a blended scorecourt is not aware that the driver has a pattern of dangerous driving behaviors. As an example, it is common practice for courts and prosecutors to allow motorists charged with speeding offenses to plead those charges down to lesser offenses such as parking violations.

“By giving prosecutors a more complete story of a person’s driving history, they can make informed decisions and help ensure that potentially dangerous drivers no longer fall through the cracks,” Gov. Cuomo.

In 2010, in town, village, city and district courts, 129,628 speeding charges were pled down from a speeding violation to “parking on pavement.” In 2011, 112,996 such pleas were accepted. Speeding convictions result in anywhere from 3 to 11 points being placed on a license, depending on the miles per hour over the speed limit. If a motorist acquires 11 or more points within 18 months, their license may be suspended by the DMV. However, there are no points associated with a parking on the pavement charge.

Accident AnalysisOften following a tragic crash involving one or more fatalities, the prosecutor’s office may file criminal charges against the commercial operator.  Under this new process, the prosecutors might have more information about the driver’s history of violation activity than the safety director; therefore, it will become more important than ever before for commercial fleet operations to maintain excellent records on their drivers.

FredPoust School bus crashIn the case of Frederick Poust, a commercial school bus driver from Pennsylvania who was convicted of causing a fatality (after being video recorded missing ten stop signs and using both cellphone and MP3 player during the morning trip prior to the crash) the Pennsylvania DMV changed its policies about older violation records which might have prevented the school district from qualifying him as fit to drive (he had a prior fatal crash that did not get reported on his MVR). (Click HERE for article)  The state Representative pushing the change was quoted as saying:

“…if you do a simple Google search you could find out more about what Poust allegedly had done than what you could find out with PennDOT’s record”

Now PA will provide the entire (lifetime) history of violations for school bus drivers so that employers will be better equipped to qualify, train and monitor their drivers.

SUMMARY

Our chief concern, and what was not immediately made clear by the article in HDT, is whether both the fleet manager and the prosecutor’s office will receive the exact same data when an MVR (motor vehicle record) is pulled.

  • If the answer is YES, it would be fair and may actually help prevent crashes by making a more complete picture of past behaviors available to safety directors.  
  • If the answer is NO, then why should employers be “kept in the dark” about events that may be used against employee drivers?

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PSP Use Affecting Crash Rates Among Regulated Fleets

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a study in October which concluded; “…carriers using PSP reduced their crash and driver OOS rates over the general carrier population.

What is PSP?  The Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) was launched on May 11, 2010, and is a voluntary program that enables motor carriers to obtain five years of crash data and three years of inspection data on prospective new hires.  The system is specifically designed to help determine whether a driver applicant should be hired by the carrier.

So the question has lingered since the introduction of PSP — would its use make a difference in results?

From the study:

Since the mission of FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and FMCSA data indicate that many crashes are due to driver error, the impacts PSP has on the safety performance of drivers and the motor carrier industry is of particular interest to the Agency.

The methodology examines crash rates and driver-related out-of-service (OOS) rates of the portion of the motor carrier population using PSP. Safety performance of these carriers is compared for a 12-month period prior to and 12 months after the start of using PSP. These data are then compared to a control group of motor carriers that did not use PSP.

FMCSA’s analysis determined that both the PSP group and the control group (non-PSP) experienced a decline in crashes in all size classes. However, the motor carriers using PSP witnessed a greater decline in crash rates over the non-PSP group in the four size classes. After adjusting the crash rate improvement of the PSP group by removing the control group effects, the PSP group still showed improvement in all four size classes (although statistical significance was shown in only two size classes). The overall adjusted improvement in the crash rates for the PSP group, across all size classes, was statistically significant (see Table 1). The PSP group also experienced a decrease in driver OOS rates in all size classes. When adjusted for control group effects, this improvement in driver OOS rates was still statistically significant in all size classes.

So the answer is, YES, carriers using PSP seem to have done a better job in qualifying and selecting candidates that perform better on the job.  Interestingly the use of PSP is steadily increasing, too.  “Currently, there are about 35,000 PSP users making about 70,000 requests per month.”

Accident Analysis

As reported in an article (click here) at truckinginfo.com, the specific results were impressive:

“The overall adjusted improvement in the crash rates for the PSP group, across all size classes, was statistically significant,” said the report.

Another example of a blended scoreIt also found those using PSP experienced a drop in driver out-of-service violations.

Overall it found crash rates declined 8% for carriers while driver OOS violations fell 17.2% for fleets using PSP, as opposed to those who haven’t

Declines in crash rates were even bigger for carriers who have between 6 and 20 drivers, falling 20.6%, and those with between 21-100 drivers, declining 21.1%.

FMCSA says the 12.4% decline in the crash rates with trucking operations that have 1 and 5 drivers, and a drop of 3.4%, for those with more than 100, are not statistically significant.

Declines in the driver OOS rates for carriers using PSP as opposed to those not using it, ranged between 10.1% for those with 21 to 100 drivers, to as much as 18.3% for those with between 1 and 5 drivers.

Most carriers use the system to verify or validate that the candidate accurately reports information about past OOS and crash data on their applications.  Some even use the data to help validate prior employer information and such.  Again, from the report:

  • The motor carriers that responded obtained a PSP report on every driver they
    hired. The most frequent use of the report, as described by the carriers FMCSA queried, is to assure that drivers are accurately reporting all information on their applications, and not omitting places of employment or crashes.
  • Violations in the PSP report for pre-trip inspections, logbooks, and speeding were high on the list of concerns and were generally believed to be a better indication of a driver’s safety performance rather than violations that the driver had little direct influence to avoid.
  • Motor carriers responded that they can also observe if drivers have worked for companies with poor safety ratings in the past.

smc 1All in all, the combination of screening and selection methods available to motor carriers seems to be enhanced greatly when using PSP consistently.  The combination of MVR, previous employer checks and PSP data can be insightful — SafetyFirst is able to provide PSP data and MVRs from all 50 states.  Let us know if you’d like more information on our driver risk profiling services, online training or GPS platforms.

The FMCSA report concludes with this observation:

“Anecdotally, companies that use PSP think the program has value, they use PSP for all of their hires, and they plan to continue using PSP. These companies tend to believe drivers with favorable PSP data are more in demand and, potentially, more marketable and valuable.”

A slide show summarizing the report is available by CLICKING HERE.

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Diversion Programs and Violation Masking

If you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

The classes usually cost less than the ticket, and the violation doesn’t go on your driving record.

More cities and counties are offering “diversion programs” because they keep cases from entering the court system. One state auditor’s report, though, says there’s a problem with these programs: They’re illegal.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/11/14/news/driver-safety-class

PoliceIf you get pulled over for speeding in Minnesota, it’s increasingly likely the police officer will give you a choice: Pay the ticket, or take a safe driving class.

This legal tactic, known as “diversion” enables offenders to avoid prosecution (and resulting criminal record) in exchange for alternative outcomes like:

  • Education aimed at preventing future offenses by the offender (i.e. Traffic School in lieu of Moving Violations)
  • Completion of community service hours
  • Avoiding situations for a specified period in the future that may lead to committing another such offense

According to a wikipedia article on diversion programs:

Some jurisdictions in the United States, such as those in California, may impose the completion of DUI programs as punishment for drunk driving in the United States. One such program is the Victim Impact Panel (VIP). administered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) since 1982. MADD typically charges a $25 “donation” (which is defined as voluntary), even for court-mandated attendance; MADD reported $2,657,293 one year for such donations on its nonprofit tax exempt returns.[11]

EdiscoverySome safety professionals do not like diversion programs since they tend to “mask” behaviors or habits that might otherwise be indicators of a deeper risk-taking mentality.  For example, suppose a chronic speeder relies on diversion programs to mask their speeding problem — ultimately, they may become involved in a fatal crash since their MVR (report of prior driving violations) didn’t signal the need for a stronger safety response.  Various reports have signaled that driver education programs often fail to reduce crash rates (click here) since:

  • Driver education does teach safety skills but students are not specially motivated to actually use them
  • Driver education could foster overconfidence
  • Driver education often fails to adequately address lifestyle issues
  • Driver education often fails to tailor content to student-specific needs

Further complicating matters is the fact that diversion programs are run locally — there’s no central reporting on who has participated and what the underlying cause may have been.  For corporate safety managers, that means giant holes in MVR reporting where all sorts of violations may have led to traffic stops, but there are no records to indicate an underlying issue with risk taking.

“We don’t want somebody with bad driving behaviors to be able to participate in diversion programs around the state and nobody knows how many they’ve participated in,” said [Minnesota] State Auditor Rebecca Otto. “If someone gets to participate in diversion in one county that’s doing this program, and then the next day they’re in a different city that has this program, their driving records are scattered all over.”

The view’s different, though, in sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state using diversion programs.

In Buffalo, Minn., the city started its Drive Smart program. Only people cited for minor moving violations — such as going 15 miles or less over the speed limit, running a red light, failing to yield – are eligible.  The number of programs like Drive Smart has nearly tripled over the last six years. More than 35 of them operate in cities and counties around the state.  [Unfortunately,]…There’s a range of fees. There’s a range of classes you get to take if you’re allowed to participate. One of them is an eight-minute online video that you watch.”

Motivating local departments and municipalities is the fact that generally a third of violation fines go to the state treasury, but diversion course fees largely stay local (a bigger cut of the pie stays at home).

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What do you think?  Should drivers be able to take an eight-minute online class and have a violation tossed as though it never happened?  In the end, would more drivers have more crashes if they have an underlying problem with risk taking while behind the wheel?  Is this all really about money in a tough economy?

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Large Truck & Bus Crash Facts – 2011

LTBCS 2011The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just released the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2011” report which examines statistics about fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes involving large trucks and buses that occurred during 2011.

This is an annual publication and it is organized into four key chapters:

  1. Trends (compare 2011 against other time periods),
  2. Crashes (counts number of incidents),
  3. Vehicles (counts vehicles in crashes — single versus multiples, etc.), and
  4. People (counts persons of all types (passengers, pedestrians, etc.) involved in crashes).

Highlights from Trends:

  • In 2011, 3,608 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 3-percent increase from 2010. However, from 2008 through 2011 the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined by 12 percent. The number of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes declined by 13 percent over the same period.
  • Over the past 10 years (2001 through 2011):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decreased from 4,823 to 3,608, a drop of 25 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased from 90,000 to 63,000, a drop of 30 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased from 335,000 to 221,000, a drop of 34 percent.

Highlights from Crashes:

  • Of the 273,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2011, 3,341 (1 percent) resulted in at least one fatality, and 60,000 (22 percent) resulted in at least one nonfatal injury.
  • mvr crash sceneSingle-vehicle crashes made up 22 percent of all fatal crashes, 13 percent of all injury crashes, and 21 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks in 2011.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads, and about one-fourth (25 percent) occurred on rural and urban Interstate highways.
  • Thirty-four percent of all fatal crashes, 22 percent of all injury crashes, and 17 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).
  • The vast majority of fatal crashes (85 percent) and nonfatal crashes (89 percent) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).

Highlights from Vehicles:

  • Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Singles (truck tractors pulling a single semi-trailer) accounted for 61 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2011; doubles (tractors pulling two trailers) made up 3 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes; and triples (tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for 0.1 percent of all large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
  • Vehicle-related crash factors were coded for 4 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of the passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Tires was the vehicle-related factor most often coded for both vehicle types.

Highlights from People:

  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 199 (6 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 175 (5 percent) were 66 years of age or older. In comparison, 5 (2 percent) of the 232 drivers of buses in fatal crashes were 25 years of age or younger, and 19 (8 percent) were 66 years of age or older.
  • Of the 3,757 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 341 (10 percent) were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash; of those, 29 percent were completely or partially ejected from the vehicle. 
  • One or more driver-related factors were recorded for 56 percent of the drivers of Another example of a blended scorelarge trucks involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes and for 29 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes. In comparison, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 76 percent of the drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles) involved in single-vehicle crashes and 52 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes. Speeding was the most often coded driver-related factor for both vehicle types; distraction/inattention was the second most common for large truck drivers, and impairment (fatigue, alcohol, drugs, illness) was the second most common for passenger vehicle drivers

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…but I got that ticket while in my personal car!

During my many years working in the field as a Loss Control Professional for the P&C insurance industry, I heard many employers (especially those who employed CDL license holders) asking about granting exceptions on MVR reviews when the driver had gotten a conviction while driving their own personal car “on the weekend”.

I was taught (in the insurance world) that it doesn’t matter what vehicle you were driving at the time of the violation — “behavior is behavior“.  If you speed on the weekend, you’ll probably speed on the weekdays, too.

PoliceA lot of managers pushed back on this notion by stating that people drive differently when behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound piece of steel.   That may be accurate, but learned and practiced behavior runs to the core of our personality and provides a strong governor of our actions.  When I learn to speed and roll through stop signs without getting caught for a long time, I take more risks and I learn to de-value the potential cost of risk taking.

Well, unfortunately for one driver (but perhaps an object lesson for others) the loss of a CDL has very publicly occured from personal driving violations.

According to published news reports,

“the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled Feb. 7 in the case of James Sondergaard v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation and Bureau of Driver Licensing, that Sondergaard’s CDL would be suspended for life.  According to court records, Sondergaard was convicted twice of DUI in 2010. Both arrests occurred while Sondergaard, a CDL holder, was driving his personal vehicle. The Pennsylvania Driver Licensing Bureau then suspended his CDL for life in August 2011.”

Arguing that state law was not clear, a series of court battles ensued, but culminated with the lifetime suspension of his CDL.

As pointed out in Land Line Magazine (Click Here to See Source Article);

“While the state law may not be straightforward, the federal regulations governing truckers is crystal clear.

The federal regulations outline varying durations of disqualifications under 383.51 The regulation spells out the various “major” and “serious” violations. The lengths of the various disqualification are a minimum standard set out to the states. States have the option of increasing the length of the suspensions if they so choose.

Federal regulation 383.51 states that the first conviction of being under the influence – even in a non-CMV – results in a one-year suspension. The second conviction is a lifetime suspension.

However, lifetime may not necessarily be lifetime. Reinstatement is possible after 10 years if that person has voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program approved by the state, according to 383.51(5).

Summary

So reviewing a driver’s MVR is important for a lot of reasons.  First, the employer should spot exceptions such as suspensions to protect their own legal interests.  Secondly, the employer should care enough about their operator to alert them that their continued aggregation of violations and convictions can lead to disaster — whether measured by collisions from risk taking habits OR loss of driving priviledges which affect employment.

Making exceptions or attempting to rationalize violations doesn’t do the driver or the employer any favors even though it may seem that way.  “Letting a violation slide” becomes an enabler of inappropriate (or at the very least, risky) habits.

If your current MVR review policy grants exceptions, please revisit that decision soon.  It’s possible that there may be certain situations where granting an exception could be justified, but it should be the true, rare exception rather the commonplace occurance.

Finally, remember that MVRs are vital, but not perfect.  There have been many situations documented by studies where violations and convictions are not reported, are masked, or have simply been lost when they “slipped through the cracks”. 

Additional Resources:

  1. Identifying drivers who may be at risk of becoming involved in a collsion:  MVR Analysis http://my.safetyfirst.com/newsfart/UnderwritingTrends8-2006(MVR).pdf
  2. Why Order & Review MVRs on Drivers? https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/why-order-review-mvrs-on-drivers/
  3. How to Use Individual Driver Motor Vehicle Records to Manage Risk  http://www.bbdetroit.com/news.php?id=166
  4. Do How’s My Driving? Programs Really Work? (See section titled “The MVR GAP”) http://www.fleet-central.com/resources/AF11supp_p22_25LR.pdf
  5. New MVR Ordering Features added to E-Driver File https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/new-mvr-reporting-features-added-to-e-driverfile/
  6. Deciphering MVR Profiling https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/deciphering-mvr-profiling/

Recruiting Strategies

Effective recruiting is all about information management. If you’re serious about improving your recruiting results, you need to start by consistently tracking information about your efforts, tactics, sources, and candidates. If you haven’t tracked your efforts and the results of those efforts you’ll have a hard time getting approval for any changes in strategy or increases in budgets.

How have you been tracking the results of your recruiting efforts?  We have some ideas you may want to consider:

  • At a minimum, maintain a written record of where or how each applicant first heard about the job opening (regardless of whether you hire them). If most applicants heard about the job through a certain source, expand your use of that source.
  • Preferably, you’ll develop a database (or spreadsheet) to track this information over the period of months or years in order to verify the return on investment in your advertising dollars. This can help justify expanding your budget and experimenting with more expensive options like radio or other “big budget” approaches. (Of course, you could also start using our “E-Driver File” program which has a complete recruiting module built in!)
  • Periodically review the applications of those you hired versus those who did not qualify. What were some of the reasons that you passed on certain driver candidates and followed through on others? It may not seem important, but over time you’ll discover specifics that:
    • enable you to save a lot of time when weeding out candidates that you’d never consider, AND 
    • improve your advertising to slow the flow of unqualified candidates.

Are you tracking past candidates that were not qualified?

  • Tracking candidates that were unqualified in the past may provide a rich resource of candidates that may become qualified within a year or two. This is a long term approach that assumes some candidates may be ready to join your firm at a later date if their MVR records improve, or their age or total years of driving experience will later match your minimum safety criteria. 
  • It takes work to keep in touch with these candidates (they may move around and change their contact information, etc.), but it may help you out when you’re in a pinch. Postcards, emails, simple newsletters about your company’s continued success and growth may entice the candidates to keep in touch with you.

Are you networking with other recruiting, HR, or safety managers outside of your company? 

  • Casual contact with other recruiters, if professionally handled, may turn up rejected candidates that don’t meet their standards, but could work for your team with a little re-training, coaching and probation status, etc.
  • While drivers may trade from one company to another, so do other employees. Hiring a recruiter from another company may bring a fresh approach to recruiting that can jump start your efforts (be aware that some recruiters may have employment contracts that do not permit them to bring their contact list along, and it could be considered stealing company property if they did).

While recruiting traditionally consists of sourcing candidates AND qualification of potential employees and the “on boarding” process, we’ll focus our attention on sourcing strategies.

Sourcing, or attracting potential candidates to your company, typically includes:

  1. Advertising by way of multiple media, such as the Internet, general newspapers, job ad newspapers, professional publications, window advertisements, job centers, and campus graduate recruitment programs; and
  2. Recruiting research, which is the proactive identification of driver candidates who may not respond to job postings and other recruitment advertising methods mentioned above. This research results in a list of prospects who can then be contacted to: solicit their interest in a position at your company; obtain a resume; and get them into the qualification process.

 What advertising have you done in the past and what are you doing now?

  • General Newspaper Ads – How are these worded?
    • Besides telling job seekers that you’d like to consider them for employment, your ad should “sell” the job and the company. Give the job seeker a valuable reason to investigate your company. Identify three things that your current drivers see as strong positives for working at your firm – use these in your advertising. 
    • How do you describe the position, the compensation, and the benefits? Is it easy to understand, or more “code-speak” that blends into all the other job ads on that page?
  • Job listing newspapers – Where are these papers placed for distribution? They may not attract CDL drivers if they are placed in grocery stores, but they may work if they are placed in truck stops. Work with the publication sales team to assure that your ad is being placed in the right community of job seekers whose qualifications and interests will be a match for your opening. 
  • Journal ads – driver magazines, trucking magazines and other print media that target drivers or may be read by drivers could be a useful place to announce your intention to hire the best candidates for your team. Specialty magazines that appeal to sportsmen, outdoor activities, and hobbies may be an unusual, but productive, place for your ad if the activities covered in the magazine relate to the activities of an ideal candidate. For example, a firm looking to hire security guards might advertise in a gun magazine to attract candidates that might not otherwise be looking for a job because they are happy where they are right now. 
  • Radio spots – are you working with the radio sales team to tailor your message and make it sound really appealing? It may cost more to hire professional talent to make your spot, but skimping makes the ad ineffective and makes your company seem weak. Picking the right stations and time slots makes a big difference. Ask lots of questions before you sign a contract and try to negotiate for rebates on future advertising based on results. 
  • Job fairs – the organizers of job fairs want you to find candidates so you’ll come back again. They are your ally so use their knowledge to get prepared in advance of a fair. Talk to the organizers about your company’s needs – if they are professionals, they will help you design a short list of questions to cut through unqualified candidates, and the organizer should be willing and able to help steer candidates to your table.
    • Advance advertising about the fair should mention that CDL candidates are sought, and you should negotiate with the organizer to see if there are any rebates, refunds or discounts off of future fairs if you’re unable to get quality candidates during the event. 
    • If you do attend a job fair, take a driver with you so that he or she can relate what a typical day or week is like, how the company operates, etc. Having a current driver (or driver trainer) attend adds credibility and helps candidates form a best possible impression of your firm. 
  • Online recruiting services (specialized for drivers, or generic services like “monster”) – test drive the system as a job seeker before spending any money to register as an employer. If the system is difficult to use or steers candidates towards companies with large advertising banners, your company will be unlikely to draw many candidates from the site. Talk among current drivers to see what sites they like (and why they like each site that they mention).

Take time to call and talk to the people who run the recruiting service. Ask for their advice and ask about success rates for other companies. They are supposed to be experts at what they do – if they are hesitant to share information with you before signing up, you’ll have to wonder whether they’ll be much help after you send them a check.

  • Does your own web site have an application form or a way to solicit driver candidates? Adding a “careers” page is simple and including an online application or “follow up form” can be far less expensive than other advertising methods. It may not draw as many candidates, but not  adding these features simply limit potential candidates from reaching you. 
  • Novel approaches are limited to your creativity (and budget). Maybe you can afford to host a “toll free joke of the day hotline” that starts with a recruiting message for your company. Maybe you could set up a recruiting table at a local truck stop once a month and give out decent quality pens with your recruiting hotline inscribed on the pen. Perhaps you can distribute custom labeled candy bars that encourage drivers to call your recruiting hotline. There’s no limit to the ways you can call attention to your company (but there may be a limit to your budget so plan these “events” carefully and track results!)

Are you actively reaching out to drivers and applicants to get additional names of drivers?

Recruiting research involves actively reaching out to get potential candidate names (it is sometime mockingly called “head hunting”).

It takes a little more work but is essentially free and may get you better job candidates than advertising. After all, the most qualified driver isn’t typically in a job search mode – they’re happy where they are or figure that changing jobs isn’t worth the hassle of re-qualifying.

If you want great candidates, you’re going to have to go chase them down, tackle them and drag them to your company!

Here are some ideas of ways to identify candidates:

  • Start by asking each applicant to list 3-5 names (and contact information) of other drivers that they know and respect as “good drivers”. If they supply only one name and a way to get in touch with that driver, it’s one additional lead for your job opening. Call or email that driver immediately and follow up with them until they say yes or no to sending you a completed application or resume.
  • Ask your current drivers if they have buddies that they’d recommend coming to work for your company. You won’t know how many will provide names until you ask them several times. 
  • If you feel the need to offer a “recruiting bonus” or “reward” to drivers who give you contact names, split the bonus into two parts – one paid after a face to face interview is completed and the second half after the applicant has been qualified and accepted a job. Pay for performance, not promises – after all, your current driver is doing their friend a favor to “get them into” your company and shouldn’t need a reward from you for making an introduction unless it leads to a placement. 
  • Calling ex-employees who voluntarily departed (ie. not terminated for cause) may turn up prospects for re-employment. The follow up shows you miss them and wish they had stayed at your firm. If they are not happy where they ended up, they may come back. This process can take weeks, months and even years, but it’s worth it since your firm will always need “solid” drivers that they can count on. (and these discussions may help you with your “retention” issues at the same time!!!)

As pointed out earlier, the recruiting effort will succeed if you track your information very well. ANY name you receive should be tracked since their qualifications, age, and experience will continue to change over time. Someone that was not a good candidate three years ago may be perfect for you at this time.

Other proactive recruiting research approaches include: 

  • Contingency Recruiters – in a pinch you may consider hiring an outside consultant to get you the talent you need. They only get paid if they deliver a qualified candidate who actually takes the job, but the fee is often a percentage of the first year’s wages (which may be a lot to gamble if the driver leaves within the first six months on the job).
  • Retained Recruiter Agencies – an often expensive option where you place an agency on retainer to actively recruit long-tenured drivers away from their current positions. Typically these drivers are happy with their current job but may move if there is sufficient cause to switch (i.e. better routes, better equipment, etc.)

These tips and ideas represent only a fraction of what can be done.  We don’t claim to have “all the answers”, but because our client network is so proactive they share ideas back and forth.  You could benefit from being a part of that network, or simply work with your current vendors who merely send you another invoice each year.

NEXT – We’ll list some comments, tips and suggestions we’ve already received from our network of more than 3,800 clients.  Add your positive comments, too.

LATER – We’ll discuss Retention Strategies and how they’re related to success in recruiting.

If you’re serious about helping your drivers stay crash-free, ticket-free, and productive, you should check out our programs and services — had to say it, we need to recruit new clients, too

The “Bookend BASICs” of CSA

cropped-truck-traffic.jpgOver the road movement of goods and passengers in heavy vehicles is a “mission critical” component of our economy.  As the saying goes; “Without Trucks, America Stops!”  Since heavy transport is so critical, it is equally vital that the drivers and companies responsible for their safe operation be held accountable to reasonable, consistent, and measurable standards.

Since the 1970s, governmental agencies and other stakeholders have been responsible to establish and monitor these standards with the purpose of improving roadway safety results.  Along the way, revisions have been made to the standards, how motor carrier operations have been evaluated and what methods are used to communicate violations and the need to improve their compliance efforts.

E-DriverFileNow, the CSA program is being introduced to help target poorly performing motor carriers before they stray far out of compliance, and the targeting method is based on reported safety results.

The CSA model redefines the performance measurement system.  In the past we had SafeStat scores based on Safety Evaluation Areas (SEA) tied to Accidents, Drivers, Vehicles and Safety Management.  Now, carrier performance will be tied to seven Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)1:

  • Unsafe DrivingOperation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by drivers in a dangerous or careless manner. Example Violations: Speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 397)
  • Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service)Operation of CMVs by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in non-compliance with the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations. This BASIC includes violations of regulations pertaining to logbooks as they relate to HOS requirements and the management of CMV driver fatigue. Example Violations: HOS, logbook, and operating a CMV while ill or fatigued. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 395)
  • Driver FitnessOperation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications. Example Violations: Failure to have a valid and appropriate commercial driver’s license and being medically unqualified to operate a CMV. (FMCSR Parts 383 and 391)
  • Controlled Substances/AlcoholOperation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Example Violations: Use or possession of controlled substances/alcohol. (FMCSR Parts 382 and 392)
  • Vehicle Maintenance Failure to properly maintain a CMV. Example Violations: Brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, and failure to make required repairs. (FMCSR Parts 393 and 396)
  • Cargo-RelatedFailure to properly prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, overloading, and unsafe handling of hazardous materials on a CMV. Example Violations: Improper load securement, cargo retention, and hazardous material handling. (FMCSR Parts 392, 393, 397 and HM Violations)
  • Crash IndicatorHistories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity. It is based on information from State-reported crashes.

Under this BASIC approach, whenever a driver receives a violation for unsafe driving, hours of service, fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, unfit vehicle condition, or cargo issues, it will directly affect the safety score for the motor carrier who has engaged their services as either a contractor or employee.  The Crash Indicator will be based on state-reported crashes.  The ultimate goal is to use these component BASICs to establish an overall score.  That score will be compared to the rest of the industry based on fleet size to “rank” your efforts against others.  Operations with poor standing will receive an intervention to help them improve their results.

The “Bookends” of the BASICs

Each of the BASICs is important; however, it’s no coincidence that the first and last BASIC listed are “unsafe driving” and “crash indicator”:  each serves as an anchor for the whole safety program.  How?

First of all, each is the most public expression of your team’s commitment to safety discipline:  a failure to exercise strong discipline in working with your drivers may result in greater violations, and ultimately, crashes.  On the other hand, well trained, disciplined and motivated drivers who display no reason to be pulled over (due to their consistent on-the-job performance) will:

  • Pay fewer fines out of pocket
  • Maintain a cleaner MVR / Driver Abstract
  • Have less down time due to avoidable violations/inspections
  • Be somewhat less likely to receive additional violations related to their equipment, cargo or log books (assuming that a speeding ticket could open the door to greater scrutiny of these areas by the initiating police officer, etc.)
  • Place a greater emphasis on vehicle self-inspections and getting repairs completed to avoid down-time and violations from roadside inspections.

In fact, the carrier’s measurement for each BASIC depends on2:

  • The number of adverse safety events (violations related to that BASIC or crashes)
  • The severity of violations or crashes
  • When the adverse safety events occurred (more recent events are weighted more heavily).

Therefore, minimizing crash events accomplishes several, equally important objectives:  preserve the wellness of your drivers; maintain a lower score; keep out of the public eye; keep insurance rates competitive and predictable; preserve the resale value or service life of company owned/leased vehicles.

Renewables Report

To shift unsafe driving towards consistently safe driving, commercial fleets have relied on programs like: driver education; driver safety hotlines; electronic profiling of drivers based on their violation and crash data; various on-board technologies to monitor and modify behavior.  Insurance carriers, private research boards and for-profit safety vendors are regularly investigating ways to help fleets reduce unsafe driving.  Progressive fleet operators don’t look for a single “silver bullet” solution.  Instead they use a layered approach – piling one method on top of another to get the best coverage and the fewest gaps in their total safety effort.

Accident Analysis

A second reason that the bookends serve as anchors is that they signal the start line and TeleMaticsfinish line to your safety “race” – it starts with a commitment to measure, manage, and motivate your driver’s best behind-the-wheel performance (replacing “unsafe” driving with “safe” driving) and finishes with improved safety results (fewer crashes).   The monitoring of crash rates also helps your team to determine if they’re getting better or worse at modifying driver performance.  While CSA 2010 monitors only “state reported” crashes, progressive safety teams often measure all crash events (even minor physical damage-only type claims) to build a cushion into the program.  If the “all events” gauge gets into the red-zone, they have a little breathing room since the BASIC considers “state reported” only.  Using a driver management database (i.e. E-Driver File, et.al.) to record and report crash events can help you manage these metrics for both internal reporting and CSA dashboarding.

What about the other BASICs?  Fatigue management, driver fitness, controlled substance use, and to some degree, cargo-related issues are tied to how the management team and drivers work together.  A lot of your efforts to encourage safe driving (training, communications plans, incentives, progressive discipline, et.al.) can have a direct impact on these areas, too.  When drivers clearly understand your expectations and they recognize that meaningful support is being provided, they should perform consistently in recordkeeping, wellness and cargo securement procedures.

Vehicle maintenance depends on effective self-inspection and repairs being carried out in a timely fashion.  Like avoiding unsafe driving maneuvers, drivers have to bear the responsibility to take appropriate action when they recognize a defect.

Keeping the BASICs, well, basic…

Large_Trucks_Cover_Front-300x287Someone once said “rule number one is not to sweat the small stuff and rule number two is that it’s all small stuff”.  I don’t know if that’s really true, but I do know one thing from working with many hundreds of trucking fleets:  those who seem to “have their act together” focus on keeping their bookends under control.  They help their drivers stay safe through aggressive candidate screening and a lot of communication (feedback, coaching, training, etc.).  They’re also fanatics about measuring to see how well they’re doing (using lots of tools and methods).  When they get these “bookends” done right, the stuff in between the bookends tends to be less stressful to manage, and they enjoy a healthy working relationship with the bulk of their drivers.

If you need help shifting driver performance from unsafe to safe, or in recording and measuring crash rates, please consider contacting our company – SafetyFirst.  Our current, active client base is over 3,800 commercial fleets representing more than 200,000 vehicles.  I’m confident that we can support your fleet, too.

Bibliography

1 – http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/basics.aspx

2 – Ibid.