What Skills to Look for in Your Next Great Truck Driver
Despite what you may think, truck drivers aren’t only responsible for getting cargo from point A to point B — good truck drivers will do so in the most most efficient, timely, and safe manner possible. Which means hiring the right truck driver can be a tall order. Not to worry! Below you’ll find expert tips and guidance to help you find and retain the best drivers for your fleet, which will provide peace of mind and ultimately save you money in the long run.
Check PSP Report
Good driving skills are the No. 1 trait you should be seeking in a potential truck driver, especially when he could be on the road for up to 500 miles a day. The smartest way to check their driving record is to run their Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) scores, which provides information on a driver’s crash and inspection history during the last five years.
Hiring and keeping drivers with excellent PSP records improves productivity for your business, and also helps keep everyone safer on the road. To access a driver’s PSP report, they must give you permission to do so. The cost of the report is $10 and can be accessed from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.
Dig Into Work-Life Balance
When it comes to safety features, the most important one for any commercial motor vehicle driver is himself. That means good health should be a top concern for both you and the driver. Your driver should already have passed a physical exam and a drug and alcohol test to get his license, but what about his personal and mental health? Spending long hours on the road solo can be extremely challenging, especially with families and other important responsibilities waiting at home. During the interview process, ask potential drivers how they maintain or plan to maintain their work-life balance while driving.
Get Screening Help from Another Driver
One great resource to help you hire a good driver is another good driver. They’ll already know the ins and outs of life on the road, basic driver fitness requirements, and will be able to ask thoughtful questions to help both you and your potential new driver determine if the opportunity is right for them.
If you are testing for practical skills, (i.e., making sure the driver can back up, can hook or unhook a trailer, setting up a loading dock) make sure another experienced driver is present to ensure they are performing tasks correctly.
Test for Emergency Skills
Of course not every truck driver is a gifted mechanic, but great drivers will stay calm and know what to do in case of a mechanical problem or breakdown, which is inevitable, when your office is the open road.
Make sure your potential driver is familiar with not only preventative measures, such as thorough pre-checks, post checks, and regular on-the-route checks, but also what to do in case of an emergency. For example, tilting the hood open is a good way to communicate that your vehicle is broken down and will likely be in the same position for a while. Can they demonstrate basic maintenance skills like replacing headlights, replenishing window washer fluid, using flares? If not, are they willing to learn?
Schedule Regular Reviews
It’s common in almost every industry to schedule 90-day reviews for new hires to assess performance and get a “pulse check” on how the job is going thus far. Whether you decide to wait two weeks or three months, it’s a good idea to sit down with your new driver for a few minutes and discuss any problems, concerns, or feedback either party has encountered since hiring.
Productive reviews can also help establish a positive relationship between a manager and a truck driver, building trust and loyalty which is vital in an essentially remote work environment.
Hiring a good truck driver can be challenging these days but as long as your follow the tips above, you’ll be able to find a driver that will stay with you for the long haul!