Commercial truck drivers are involved in so many industries – from long-haul truckers to movers to even construction companies, but the candidate pool to fill the greatly increasing positions are shrinking as the current average driver age of 55 keeps rising. A 2017 report by the American Trucking Association found that there is a need for just under 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demands, so hiring inexperienced drivers may become the new norm.
Companies hiring inexperienced drivers may be opening themselves up to more risks. Drivers as young as 21 can be put behind the wheel of a truck and entrusted with the responsibility of crossing state lines hauling thousands of pounds of product. However, having a solid hiring and training process could make all the difference.
- The hiring process. Make sure you have a solid hiring process including a background and motor vehicle check. Looking at past length of employment is also beneficial to ensure the applicant is committed. A physical health assessment as well as drug test should be part of your routine new hire process.
- Insurance. Before you make an offer, consult with your insurance account manager or risk advisor on how a young/inexperienced driver will affect your coverage. Do you need additional coverage, is this carrier the best option for your needs with new staffing?
- Training Programs. Before your new hire drives off into the sunset with six figures worth of cargo, make sure they pass your in-house training program. Depending on how experienced they may be, having several weeks to several months of driver training will better prepare them for the job. They can get comfortable with the truck, the route, and the locations they will be working in.
- Set expectations. Make sure your new driver is prepared for what to expect. Will they have regular routes, regular drop-offs and pick-ups, how long will they be gone at a time? What will they be hauling – is it hazardous? Are there recommended truck stops to use or shortcuts to avoid certain roads? There are all good things to cover with your new driver, so they aren’t confused or anxious once on their own.
- Policies and procedures. Make sure all your employees, especially the young drivers understand the importance of following policies and procedures. From a pre-flight checklist to how to properly secure a load – these are all tools your new driver will need to follow. Setting the example and precedence now for safety can save you lots of $$$ in the long run.
- Ongoing training. Ongoing training can help minimize accidents over the span of your drivers’ career. Accidents happen, but the majority of driver accidents will happen within their first year. Trainings that address many of the common accidents causes will be beneficial to your drivers. Following up and performing check-ins are also great ways to make sure your drivers are on top of their game.
Finding safe, qualified, and long-term truck drivers is a huge problem facing the workforce today, that’s not going anywhere any time soon. With a dwindling talent pool and an aging workforce, looking to fresh, novice drivers may soon become the wave of the future for many, but with proper policies and procedures and robust training, it may set your company up for a new wave of fresh faces ready to tackle the open road!
If you have questions about your commercial driver policy or how an inexperienced driver may affect your coverage or rates – give me a call!