Road tests are an invaluable risk management technique. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations allow motor carriers to accept a driver’s CDL in lieu of conducting a road test, this is one area where successful trucking companies go beyond compliance. Having a CDL does not mean an applicant has the skills and mindset to prevent losses, so putting an unknown driver behind the wheel and trusting the company’s fate to chance is quite a gamble. That is why conducting a road test, both for applicants and tenured drivers, should be part of the initial and ongoing driver qualification process. Here are some tips for conducting road tests.
First, start by determining how the driver will be evaluated. Our partners at Great West Casualty Company offer a “Driver Performance Evaluation” form on their secure portal that is free to download and can be used by the examiner to document the test. It even includes sections to evaluate how the driver does preventing critical crashes as well as other habits like using a seat belt, 3-point contact when entering/exiting the vehicle, and putting away his/her cell phone.
Next, select the examiner who will be conducting the road test. This person should be a qualified driver who epitomizes the safety culture of the company and takes this responsibility seriously. One red flag DOT auditors hone in on is a road test form that looks pencil-whipped. Choose an examiner who will give an honest evaluation and fill out the evaluation form accurately and completely.
Choosing the type of equipment and route used in the road test are very important, as well. The road test should be conducted in the type of equipment the driver will be expected to drive while on duty. Also, establish a route that takes into consideration highway driving, urban and rural roadways, customer facilities, and any other environment the driver will be expected to work around.
The last step in planning the road test is to determine the grounds for passing and failing. This is another reason for having a qualified driver as the examiner. If the driver fails the test while out on the road, the examiner can switch seats and bring the equipment back safely.
Once the standards for the road test are developed, ensure it is followed for every driver. This includes conducting a preemployment drug and alcohol test before getting behind the wheel. If the driver were to be involved in a crash and later tests positive, the company could be held liable for negligence. Conversely, conducting a road test for every driver can also help mitigate a claim by showing the company values safety.
Consider these road test tips for applicants, post-crash re-qualification, and as an ongoing process to review the performance of tenured drivers. For help understanding the regulatory requirements for road tests, check out the SelfService e-Tools entitled, Road Tests, on Great West’s secure portal. It covers FMCSR Part 391.31 and includes additional tips gathered from the trucking industry on how to conduct successful road tests.
Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company.
Is there a training session we can provide regarding this subject? Contact our Risk Management Specialist for more information!
Risk Management Specialist | Joe Morten & Son, Inc.
O: 865.392.3777 | C: 865.771.9506