Recruiting Safe Commercial Drivers
7 May 2019 by Stefan Hinrichsen
Commercial drivers - whether they drive a train, lorry, bus, ferry, delivery van or a forklift - are responsible for the safety of their passengers or cargo, and their vehicles. If you recruit drivers, you’ll undoubtedly check whether job candidates have the necessary driving skills and the required licences or certificates. You may even conduct medical and eyesight checks. But, can you be confident those individuals will drive safely?
Drivers suffering from inattentiveness, fatigue or stress, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, can cause serious or fatal injuries. For example, across Europe the leading cause of death at work is being struck by a moving vehicle.
The best risk management strategy is to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place, rather than trying to deal with the consequences. It’s now possible to do this when recruiting drivers, as new psychometric assessments can predict whether or not an individual has the propensity to cause accidents. These assessments measure an individual’s competencies and disposition, and they predict whether that person will be a safe driver who is able to deal effectively with the challenges they’ll face.
Our research shows that good commercial drivers, regardless of what vehicle they drive, share important attributes. For example, they’re observant, they pay attention and they’re able to concentrate. They’re also able to multitask and they have quick reactions, spatial orientation and a good memory. As a result, they’re vigilant drivers and they strive to ensure safety rather than taking risks.
The importance of each of these aspects may be weighted differently for different roles. But they can all be assessed. For example, you can measure a candidate’s ability to concentrate, their reaction speed, their sense of direction and orientation, their ability to perform several tasks simultaneously under time pressure and their ability to remember information. Their personality and behavioural tendencies can also be examined to check for aspects such as impulse control, ethical awareness, trustworthiness and the likelihood of whether they’ll behave counterproductively at work. An overall score can then be calculated for each candidate. Those with a low score will have a greater tendency to cause accidents.
Different versions of these tests are available for different industries. For example, they include appropriate signs and symbols for drivers of ferries, trains, buses and other commercial vehicles, to make them relevant to candidates in each industry. Many are also optimised for mobile devices, so candidates can complete them when and where it’s most convenient.
Testing of this nature clearly adds value when recruiting new drivers. For some roles, such as pilots, employers will adopt a sophisticated selection process and candidates will be thoroughly tested to assess their suitability. However, candidates for low-paid driving roles may not have been psychometrically assessed in the past. Now, they can be - and this has considerable safety implications.
In addition to rejecting unsuitable applicants from the hiring process, short three-minute versions of these tests can also be used as a pre-shift check to assess whether employees are overtired, stressed or intoxicated when they clock in. Many companies find it isn’t feasible to safety-check all of their drivers prior to every shift, because they employ so many people. However, a short test can be conducted via a laptop on-site and if an employee is flagged, they can then be assessed one-to-one by a supervisor who can confirm whether or not they’re fit for work. In some cases an individual may have failed the test because they were rushing; the supervisor would be able to tell if this was the case or if there is a deeper problem. Checking occasional flagged individuals is a manageable task for supervisors - and it helps companies ensure their drivers and machine operators are clear-headed and attentive at the start of every shift.
Reducing the annual rate of accidents and injuries in your organisation, by even 5% will bring significant employee and financial benefits. With today’s assessments, you can determine within a few minutes whether a person has the disposition and the attributes to drive safely and attentively. Recruiting only individuals with these characteristics will help you lower the risk of accidents, save unnecessary costs, protect expensive vehicles and safeguard your reputation.