I recently wrote about how to find safe drivers, but what if you’re happy with the drivers you have? What if you have a small team of trusted drivers you’ve worked with for several years — how important is a safety program for you? Consider this: how would your business be impacted if you lost one of your drivers for a year or more?
It’s Becoming One Big Traffic Jam
There are more cars and trucks on the road than ever before, traffic is congested, conditions are difficult, and laws are being enforced. The risk of driver infractions has increased, and the penalties haven’t decreased. Major violations like operating under the influence of alcohol (0.04), leaving the scene of an accident, or distributing controlled substances are more a matter of character than of chance. If you hire good people, they’ll make good decisions. But serious violations can simply be a small distraction, bumper-to-bumper traffic, or road conditions. These violations include:
• Excessive speeding — 15 MPH or more
• Improper lane changes
• Reckless driving — defined as willful disregard for the safety of persons or property (leaves a lot to interpretation, doesn’t it?)
It’s EASY to Lose a Commercial Driver’s License
According to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act), “The first serious violation results in a disqualification of no less than 180 days or more than 1 year. The second violation within 10 years, results in a disqualification of no less than 2 years or more than 5 years. The third and subsequent violations result in disqualifications of no less than 3 years or more than 5 years.”
Two violations in ten years could result in a five year suspension — two 15 MPH speeding violations, two instances of following too closely, two lane changes without signaling, or any combination. I’m not saying the laws aren’t just and needed. I’m saying even your most trusted and experienced driver should be reminded of possible violations and the consequences.
What Can You Do?
• Occasionally ride along and evaluate each driver.
• Train and promote defensive driving.
• Conduct safety meetings such as hazardous driving situations — construction zones, roadside emergency stops, and compensating for blind spots.
• Establish a written driver safety policy and review it periodically.
• Perform knowledge and skills testing.
The FMCSA offers a wealth of accessible and easy to use information. For example, their defensive driving section offers at least 20 review ideas with objectives, descriptions, questions for management, and driver tips.
Wouldn’t it be better to take a proactive stance with your team to avoid infractions, rather than hire a team of attorneys to deal with it after the fact? As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” How have driver violations affected your operation?