So you want to hire a driver with less than two years CDL experience. Quite often, companies are motivated to put a driver in a seat to get the truck moving.
This is something clients often ask us about, and may become more prevalent if federal law is changed to allow under-21 CDL holders to operate trucks on an interstate basis.
On the surface, this seems to make sense, but trucking companies hiring inexperienced drivers may be opening themselves up to more risk than it's worth. When hiring someone this green, it is critical to consider the cost of hiring, training, and retaining this driver along with the possible negligent hiring suits you could be opening the door to should the driver be involved in a serious accident.
Plaintiff’s attorneys know as much (if not sometimes more) than the average trucking company about proper hiring for drivers.
In cases where a plaintiff attorney can prove to a jury that the trucking company didn’t hire drivers of acceptable competency, or that the federally mandated paperwork is incomplete, a suit for negligent hiring may result.
In some cases, this results in punitive damages which may or may not be covered by an insurance company. In some states, insurance companies are prohibited from paying punitive damages.
This means that the trucking company is responsible for theses damages. Proceed with caution -- the hiring of drivers who are unqualified due to inexperience, tickets, or accidents could jeopardize the future of your trucking company.
Still considering hiring a driver with less than two years CDL experience? Here are some key items to look for when considering hiring that driver:
When in doubt, talk to your risk advisor for help making a determination. It’s far better to be cautious on the front end than to have to rescind an offer to a candidate or open your company up to risk down the road.
Establish consistent hiring policies that can be applied across the board. This is one of the best things you can do to protect your business from a negligent hiring suit – as long as you actually adhere to the policy.
Policies should name specific (not subjective) disqualifiers, and they should never fluctuate with the supply of applicants. Make these public and share them with all employees and applicants. In addition to providing a basis for your defense in a lawsuit, putting these policies out in the open helps you hold recruiters and hiring managers accountable for the quality of people they're bringing on.
Finding good, qualified, safe truck drivers is a wicked problem that isn’t going away any time soon. Hiring, training and retaining the best qualified drivers is what’s best for your company.