Lets face it, there are good truck drivers ( I represent a lot of them when they get hurt by unsafe truck drivers.) and then there are folks that shouldn’t drive a tricycle much less a tractor trailer. The latter category of truck drivers endangers my friends on the road and my family. So what to do?
Well, if you are a trucking company executive the first thing you can do is hire safe drivers. (The second thing you can do is provide adequate training but lets save that for another day.) In 2008 there were 4.9 million commercial drivers. Despite the large number of drivers, trucking companies have almost 100% turnover of drivers every year – and a driver shortage is anticipated by the industry. That means that a trucking company has to replace each driver in their fleet every year. As drivers get harder to find, some companies simply hire from the bottom of the barrel.
The FMCSA agrees that hiring safe drivers is critically important in avoiding wrecks. It has therefore set up a pre-employment screening program (PSP) to allow trucking companies to check drivers crash and safety records out BEFORE they hire them. So if we consider there are almost 5 Million drivers, and 100% turnover, there should be almost 5 Million driver safety checks right? Wrong! Only 7.6 of truck drivers, or 380,000, were checked out before being hired last year! (Transportation Topics, May 30, 2011, p4) The reason I believe they dont check out drivers? Bad drivers work cheaper, keeping wages down across the industry for good safe professional drivers and putting more money into the pockets of trucking companies.
Once again keeping the wheels moving, and making money, wins out over putting safe drivers behind the wheels and paying them fairly.