It’s one of the most common things that happens when you hire a new driver. A driver used to drive for the company down the road. He or she decided they were better off with you and applies. That driver already has a CDL and the MVR checks out, so there’s no reason to road test them. Wrong.
You hold your company to a higher standard. Safety is the top priority, and you want to make sure that new driver is as safe as possible. You don’t know what that driver knows on day one. Sure, they haven’t gotten into accident or sped on the highway. But that doesn’t mean that driver is a good driver.
There are several reasons why you should road test every driver who signs on the dotted line. We are only looking at the most general ones here today, but they are all important.
Drivers who drive poorly don’t always get caught.
Plenty of drivers, both professional and amateur, have bad driving habits. Some, but not all of them, get pulled over for those habits. People speed and get away with it, or switch lanes without signalling. You and I see it all the time. It’s better to get an idea of how a trucker drives before they get on the road for you. A road test can help in that regard better than just running an MVR.
Not all companies have the same high standards.
This isn’t to knock any one trucking company, but human nature tends to result in some businesses cutting corners. That could include safety, which should never happen. You have no way of knowing if another company’s orientation lasted two months or five minutes. You should always take all of your new drivers through your own safety program and that includes a road test.
Driving skills diminish with age.
The sad truth about mortality is that people lose their ability to drive as well when they get older. They lose sense of correct speed, have more limited vision and are slower to respond and hit the brakes. For this reason, remedial driving courses exist and you should use them, especially for older drivers or drivers who have been off of the road for a while. It’s better to find out right away that they don’t drive so well anymore rather than with a full load on an icy road.
The company before you may not have tested that driver either.
Truck drivers tend to switch companies a great deal, which inevitably leads to them not getting road tested. If a driver comes in with a valid CDL, that company before you probably wouldn’t have tested them. The driver puts the money down to renew the CDL, so that driver never needs the road test. But now, a few years have passed and that driver comes to you, and the driver hasn’t been road tested in ten years. How do you know they still know how to drive safely if they haven’t been tested in so long?
It sets an example of safety’s importance.
Combined with a thorough orientation and defensive driving training, road tests prove a commitment to the driver and their safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road. New drivers will take note of that and learn to take it seriously.
Prove your company’s commitment to safety by road testing new drivers and retesting your seasoned veterans every couple of years.
Click on the link below to gain access to Founder Mark Gardner's Safety Leadership presentation!