Most safety managers and company owners will tell you that they all understand the importance of qualifying a new driver joining their fleet. They know that standards need to be in place to determine if the driver is qualified, has appropriate or relevant experience for the equipment that he or she will be operating or if they are even trainable. Most do an excellent job of keeping their driver files up-to-date with all of the required paperwork.
The missing link in the process tends to be the requalification of existing drivers in a fleet. All drivers should be held to the same standards and reviewed on a regular basis. Minimally this should be done annually or even semi-annually and not just after an incident occurs. A safety manager’s goal should be prevention – not reaction. If you see that they are slipping in certain areas or have recently developed some bad habits, use this as a training opportunity to get them back up to the fundamental criteria you established.
Current estimates tell us that we could be looking at a shortage of approximately 33,000 qualified commercial drivers by 2020. Use the driver requalification process as an opportunity to improve your overall retention. Identify any gaps that may exist and use them as a training opportunity. Keeping your drivers educated and up-to-date will help to make a more educated and satisfied fleet.
It is easy to make excuses and justify the behaviour of existing drivers in your fleet because of the history you have with them; however, everyone needs to be held accountable. This is why your driver requalification standards should mirror your initial, documented, hiring criteria. Take the opportunity to ensure that your drivers are operating your equipment safely and representing your company brand with the highest level of professionalism.
Over time, regardless of if you are driving a personal or a commercial vehicle, we all start to exhibit some bad behaviours behind the wheel. Understanding that you will always be held accountable against specific standards will help enforce good habits and hopefully reduce the risk of being involved in an incident.