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MANAGING RISK: Keys To The Road

Putting a new driver behind the wheel takes much more than a driving test.


BY: ANDY CARLO

The delivery fleet is polished with your company’s logo prominently displayed. Your delivery trucks are serving as roving billboards to customers and potential customers alike. But is the new hire behind the wheel up to the critical task of driving safely, plus cranking out deliveries all day?

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As the new construction and remodeling boom of the warm seasons rapidly approach—chatter on the street has many saying that their contractor customers are swiftly booking up jobs. The ravaging, cold winter that hindered building and remodeling production in many parts of the country is in the rearview mirror.

A busy season could translate into dealers expanding the number of delivery trucks maintained while expanding driver rosters. Being cautious and taking a systematic approach in how you go about hiring a new driver is likely to prevent major headaches down the road, however.

“You’re putting them in a vehicle with your logo on the side and representing your company to the general public,” says Greg Pianko, VP of loss control at Pennsylvania Mutual Lumbermens Group.

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“If they’re speeding and cutting off people, they are going to give off a different impression of your organization.” That impression will likely translate into customers being turned off and not sending sales the dealer’s way. In a worst-case scenario, an accident can result in increased premiums or a big day in court.

Get It in Writing

Pianko recommends dealers first work with an insurance provider to establish company driving policies along with the proper documentation that explains what to expect from new company drivers and existing drivers alike. Essentially, dealers want to set up a plan as to what is acceptable, what will be tolerated or what could result in dismissal from the position.

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More than likely, all candidates will be required to sign-off on all paperwork, including background checks.

“The more documented programs you have in place in relationship to your fleet safety program, the better chances you have to hire a quality driver and reduce your potential for a loss. Documented programs also show that you have done your due diligence, should a loss occur and the case goes to court,” Pianko says.

Once internal policies have been created, a corporate attorney should review the program. If a dealer has operations in more than one state, that doesn’t mean the policies established by the dealer are applicable in all states. Having the right paperwork in place could be crucial—particularly if the driver is not at fault in an accident.

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