It’s no surprise that putting more drivers on the road is the best way to increase capacity, but carriers need to make sure they hire the most talented and qualified drivers available. Even during the current driver shortage, hiring a single inexperienced or incompetent employee can expose you to costly fines, truck crashes, and a tarnished reputation.

The best way to make sure you’re employing the most qualified drivers on the road is to perform comprehensive pre-employment screenings—and not just the basic DOT-required background checks. Your business should also make efforts to check for any state and local pre-employment requirements, criminal histories and even public social media posts to see if candidates are the right fit. But, you need to keep your legal obligations in mind when examining anyone’s private information to protect yourself from fines and litigation.

Pre-employment Screenings for Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a set of basic requirements that you need to check before you hire a driver. However, keep in mind that your area may have unique requirements that override federal regulations:

  • Document the pre-employment screenings for every drivers. Make sure that all stakeholders involved in the hiring process record why a decision is made and what information the decision is based on. You should also keep documents and personal information secure in a safe location or in a password-protected computer system.
  • Make sure that the Social Security number that a candidate provides is valid. Since you’ll use this number to perform other checks, it’s important to make sure it’s correct early in the process.
  • Use the commercial driver’s license information system to check a candidate’s license and learn what states you’ll have to request driving records from.
  • Verify a candidate’s previous three years of employment history. If a driver’s previous DOT-regulated employer doesn’t use an electronic employment history database, you may have to send in a manual request. You can also ask previous employers for recommendations, but carriers are only required to verify a driver’s work history.
  • Request motor vehicle reports from every state where a candidate held a commercial driver’s license by accessing that state’s department of motor vehicles.
  • Obtain a candidate’s drug and alcohol tests from the previous three years from past employers.
  • Use the FMCSA’s pre-employment screening program to check a candidate’s last five years of crash data and last three years of roadside inspections. Even if a candidate meets all FMCSA and local requirements, you should carefully check the reports to see if any driving or maintenance habits stand out.
  • Perform criminal history and sex offender checks in all states where a candidate lived or worked. However, keep in mind that state laws regarding the use of this information in employment screening may vary.
  • Have candidates perform a pre-employment drug test. A negative test result is a mandate for all commercial drivers.
  • Make sure that a candidate is medically qualified to drive by obtaining a qualification from a licensed, certified and registered medical examiner. A list of examiners can be found in the FMCSA’s National Registry.
  • Consider searching for a candidate’s social media posts. However, you should never ask for personal passwords to social media platforms, and any employment decisions based on posts you find should be well documented and pertain solely to the candidate. Also, keep in mind that any posts relating to a candidate’s views on race, national origin, sexual identity, disability, medical history, religion and age are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and should never be used to make or influence employment decisions.

Ongoing Screening

Once you’ve hired a driver, you need to perform ongoing screenings and check-ins to make sure that your workforce is performing well and you’re compliant with FMCSA regulations:

  • Random drug and alcohol tests—The FMCSA requires 25 percent of all commercial drivers to be randomly tested for controlled substances every year, although the testing rate can be increased to 50 percent under certain circumstances. The agency also requires 10 percent of drivers to be randomly tested for alcohol.
  • Post-accident tests—Carriers must test drivers for drugs and alcohol after an accident under these conditions:
    • The accident involved the loss of life
    • The accident led to bodily injury or disabling damage to a vehicle, and the driver was issued a citation
  • Reasonable suspicion tests—Carriers must test drivers for drugs or alcohol if there’s reason to suspect that a driver has violated DOT or FMCSA regulations.
  • Annual driving record reviews—The FMCSA requires carriers to perform annual reviews of each driver’s record.
  • Performance, vehicle and maintenance reports—Your drivers should meet with managers and maintenance personnel regularly to ensure that any of their concerns are being addressed and all equipment is in working order.

Contact Us Today

 One of the most important aspects to ensuring your commercial fleet’s success is to make sure that your business hires qualified drivers, maintains accurate employment records and keeps your workforce safe. Contact us today for transportation-specific forms, checklists and compliance guides that can help you manage and onboard your drivers.