Module 2: Driver Requirements Previous Module Overview Glossary Help Next Module

Introduction

In this module, you’ll learn what you need to do when hiring, training, and monitoring drivers.

Timeframe: 15 minutes

In this section, you will learn to:
  • Identify driver requirements.
  • Examine driver skills and qualifications.
  • List the information that must be in a driver file.
  • Develop policies and procedures related to driver qualifications and training, driver responsibilities, conduct, and discipline.
  • Learn how to keep proper driver records.

For technical assistance please reference the Help and Troubleshooting Guide.

Before You Hire a Driver

Before you hire a driver, it is recommended you make sure:

  • You have a hiring policy in place.
  • You ask the applicant to provide a recent driver abstract.
  • You inspect records carefully (such as drivers' abstract and drivers' licence).
                                                                                     
 

Hiring Policies

Your Safety Program should include a hiring policy that addresses the following:

  • Requirement for an employment application.
  • Requirement to obtain an applicant’s driver’s licence and to ensure they hold the proper class of licence for the vehicle they shall drive.
  • Requirement to check for driver restrictions and endorsements (for example, air brake endorsement).
  • Requirement for the driver to provide the most recent driver abstract. In Alberta, there are different ways to get one.
  • Ensure the driver is willing and able to take all required training. This may include training in Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG), cargo securement, hours of service, trip inspections and others as required.
►A driver abstract should be no more than 30 days old before hiring the driver, so you have the most up-to-date information. It is recommended that you obtain a commercial driver abstract as it includes more information.

Cautions When Hiring:

 A potential driver should be closely reviewed in case:

  • Their driver’s licence is not valid.
  • Their driver’s licence is not for the class of vehicle they will drive.
  • They do not have required endorsements (for example, air brake endorsement or “S” endorsement).
  • Their driver’s abstract shows a poor safety record.
  • They do not complete an application form.

Employment Application

Be sure to ask your driver applicant for the following information with their application:

  • A current driver’s abstract.
  • A copy of their driver’s licence.
  • Any required training certificates (for example, TDG or Hours of Service).
  • Their employment history for the previous 3 years.
►As part of the hiring process, it’s also a good idea to ask for their employment references you can call.

Driver Abstracts

A driver abstract is a record of the person’s driving history. You need to get one for every driver at the time of hire and every 12 months after that.

There are two kinds of Driver Abstracts.
The Standard Driver Abstract provides information from an individual’s driving record, such as:

  • Driver's information (including name, address, licence number and issue date).
  • Driver’s appearance (such as height, weight and sex).
  • Current status of the driver’s licence (including class, restrictions and endorsements).
  • Conviction information.
  • Demerit points.
  • Suspensions.

The Commercial Driver Abstract allows for employers to assess safety risks associated with a driver prior to hiring them. It is recommended that carriers check the driver’s Commercial Driver Abstract. It provides most of the same information as the Standard Driver Abstract plus information about convictions and inspections related specifically to the operation of commercial vehicles (for example, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspections and cargo securement violations).

Commercial Driver Abstract: What am I Looking at?

 

The following section will show you the information available in a Commercial Driver Abstract:

 

Section Information
A Section A shows the abstract's general information and the date that the commercial driver abstract was issued.

You’ll want an up-to-date Commercial Driver Abstract to review for hiring.
B Section B shows the driver's personal information including name, adress and Motor Vehicle Identification Number (MVID).
C Section C shows a driver's status. Here you can see the driver's status, for example if the driver is suspended, and the number of demerit points. A suspended driver is not allowed to drive a vehicle.
D Section D shows the operator licence information such as the driver's licence number, expiry date and any conditions (for example, the driver may need to use corrective glasses while driving).

It is recommended you keep track of driver's licences and their expiry dates, so you can remind your drivers to get them renewed ahead of time. 

This section also shows the class of licence. This information will tell you if the driver has the right licence to drive the kind of vehicles you need them to drive. 
E Section E shows the licence restrictions and the dates to which the restriction applies. This includes convictions and restrictions due to accummulation of demerit points.
F Section F shows convictions. Here you can see the number and type of convictions a driver has. Be wary of drivers with many convictions!
G Section  G shows if the driver has gone through any Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Inspections (CVSA).

 

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What to Watch for on the Driver Abstract?

Beware of abstracts that show:

  • An expired licence.
  • Too many tickets.
  • Too many convictions within a short period of time.
  • Any motor vehicle-related Criminal Code Convictions in the past 3 years.

You should consider the possible safety risk of hiring driver with:

  • History of collisions.
  • History of convictions (for example, speeding, cargo securement issues or Hours of Service violations).
  • History of alcohol or drug related convictions.

Companies providing services to the public and/or transporting passengers should also consider getting a criminal record check from applicants.

►Call past employers. It is easier not to hire a problem driver than to deal with the consequences later.

Once You’ve Hired a Driver

Once you’ve hired a driver, you’ll need to file records for them, and make sure they are fully trained.

  • Give them a list of their responsibilities.
  • Give them a list that outlines the company’s policies and procedures.
  • Have them sign and date a written statement that they have read and agree to:
    • Their responsibilities.
    • Complying with the company’s policies and procedures.
    • The company’s discipline policy where they have not followed policies and procedures.
    • Complying with government regulations.

Keep a Driver Check Sheet

A driver check sheet helps you keep track of important dates. You can create your own check sheet as a table or spreadsheet.

Before you file away your new driver’s records, it’s a good idea to record important dates on this sheet.

  • Licence Expiry Date: You will have copies of your drivers’ licenses. But it helps to have the expiry dates recorded, so that you can see at a glance who must renew their licence soon.
    Remember Service Alberta does not send out hardcopy reminders for drivers to renew their licence. If a driver is stopped operating your vehicle without a valid licence the vehicle could be subject to impound.
  • Abstract Required: A Commercial Driver Abstract is only current for 12 months. Include the date when you will need to request a new abstract for your driver. It may also be helpful to track when issues have been identified on an abstract.
  • Logbook Inspection: This same check sheet includes the date the carrier last inspected the driver’s logs. This can be useful when it has been identified that a driver has had issues following, for example, Hours of Service regulations.
  • Training and Date Completed: This check sheet shows all the dates this business’ drivers completed their training courses. Include when they will need to renew their training. In the check sheet download, you’ll find the types of training are blank, so you can fill them in with the appropriate training for your business.
Tip: If you are a small carrier, you may find it enough to mark important dates on a wall calendar. Make sure you check your calendar frequently.
Tip: Remember that the abstract request date is one year by minimum requirement. You may choose to request this more often.

Setting Driver Policies

Have driver sign an agreement, and make sure they understand why the policies are in place.

Why?
You need to make your drivers aware of your policies. If you ask them to sign a statement saying they have read and understand your policies, you can hold them accountable.

What can happen?
You are responsible if your drivers don’t follow your policies. If they don’t log their hours properly, report something like a vehicle defect, or an Out of Service inspection result, that goes on YOUR record as the carrier.

Case Study: One Carrier’s Experience with Policy



Company B spoke again and again to a driver who violated the policies. When the company fired the driver, he went to the Employment Standards Branch [https://www.alberta.ca/employment-standards.aspx]. He said he’d been dismissed unfairly and never said anything about all the times he’d been spoken to about the policy. After that, Company B put a four-step policy in place for driver discipline:

  1. Verbal warning, with a note (signed by the manager and the driver), placed into the driver’s file.
  2. Written warning, with a note (signed by the manager and the driver), placed into the driver’s file.
  3. A final written warning, with a copy (signed by manager and driver) placed in driver’s file. AND: Driver is suspended from driving for 30 days.
  4. Immediate termination and dismissal.

The company found that the four step policy worked well for them and for drivers too. Once the policy was implemented, the company did not have further issues with drivers and the drivers understood the company’s rules and safety practices.

Sample Discipline Policy

There are many examples of discipline policies. The NSC does not recommend any one policy. It just says you must have one in place, in writing. Your driver policies can include:

  • Suspending the driver from driving if they drive poorly or do not follow your policies.
  • Ensuring that drivers who are not fully trained are sent to complete training.

How you design your disciplinary policy is up to you. The intent of having this policy is to hold drivers accountable for complying with the law and company policies and procedures.

One Example of a Progressive Discipline Policy:
  • First Violation = Verbal Warning;
  • Second Violation = Written Warning;
  • Third Violation = Supplemental Training;
  • Fourth Violation = 3 Day Suspension;
  • Fifth Violation = Termination.

Remember: It is a best practice for drivers to acknowledge receipt of the discipline action by way of a signature and date.

Offer Incentives
Alternatively, some carriers offer incentives for violation-free driving periods. For example, if the driver has had no violations in a year, they could be rewarded. As an incentive for completing trip inspections properly, some companies attach tags to inspection items that can be turned in for driver rewards.

Driver Files

In Module 1, you learned about keeping records in general. Here we go into more detail about what’s inside the driver's file.

A driver file should contain:

  1. A photocopy of the driver’s licence.
  2. Incident files - Keep these reports for the current year, plus 4 more years after the incident happened.
  3. Their driver abstracts - Keep these for the current year, plus 4 more years.
  4. Employment information, including their employment history, application form for employment and signed statement of responsibilities.
  5. Training Certificates - A file must include a driver's current certificate, as well as one expired certificate that will be kept for 2 years after it expired.
  6. Collision reports.
Not checking the paperwork means money lost

A few years ago, one of the largest freight forwarding or brokering companies in North America was sued. They had hired a trucking company to haul some of their freight, and never checked the company’s safety history by pulling a public carrier profile. That carrier hired a driver who consistently drove over the allowed hours, and falsified their records. The driver then had an collision with multiple fatalities. The freight company was found partly liable in the accident and sued for 23 million dollars. The carrier is no longer in business and now that freight company is aware of their liability—they’re checking the safety standing of the carriers they hire.

When a Driver Moves Companies

Some carriers have more than one company. When a driver moves from one company to another, it must be treated as though the driver is starting a new job.

  • You must start a whole new file for the driver.
  • You must get an application and record of the driver’s employment history for the three years previous.
  • You must get an abstract from the driver to put on file.
  • You must have your driver sign a new driver’s agreement.

Training Drivers

You are responsible for making sure your drivers are trained. In your safety and maintenance program, write down the training you will give your drivers. How you train your drivers is up to you. All drivers should know about safety laws that apply to them and there should be an ongoing program for evaluating their driving skills.

If applicable, it is recommended that drivers be trained in the following:

  • Hours of Service - This is the most complex aspect of training. It will require the most amount of time.
  • Cargo securement.
  • Trip inspections and how to record them.
  • Weights and dimensions.
  • How their performance is monitored.
  • Handing in tickets, roadside inspections and collision reports.
  • Disciplinary policy.
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods.

 

►Note that the Transportation of Dangerous Goods requires special training and certification. See Transport Canada’s information on training for guidelines on training and sample certificates.

Hiring Consultants

Should you train drivers yourself? Or should you hire someone else to train them?

You are responsible for the actions of the drivers you hire, so you may want to train them yourself. If you decide to do so, it is important to ensure that you have proper training, as well as the time and capacity to train others.

If you find this is not the case and you may need to hire a consultant to work with you on safety practices, make sure you check this list:

  • Interview a few consultants. Don’t just pick the first one you find.
  • Find a consultant that’s willing to work within your budget and travel if necessary.
  • Make sure they are experienced in the areas and issues you need help with.
  • Make sure the consultant can offer advice on safety regulations, including:
    • Driver files, vehicle files, trip inspections, driver logs, Hours of Service monitoring, vehicle maintenance, safety plan controls and scrutiny.
  • Are they willing to work with you to develop a safety and maintenance program? They should be.
  • Find out the consultant’s scope of involvement.

    The questions below may help you establish clear roles between what you will need to do and what you can expect your consultant to do. Note: These are examples of questions you can ask your consultant.
    1. What role will you, as a consultant, take in monitoring my drivers? Will you be training my staff to monitor drivers, or will you be doing the monitoring?
    2. What will hours of service monitoring include?
    3. Will the hours of service monitoring training be done in-house? Or will my staff be required to go offsite?
    4. Will I need to send any of my records offsite, or will you come and work in our office?
    5. Who will develop forms?
    6. Who will develop tracking systems?
    7. Who will request abstracts?
    8. Who will monitor our driver training requirements?
    9. Can you provide these services within my budget?

Summary

In this module, you learned that carriers have a number of responsibilities before hiring a driver, during the hiring process and once you have hired a driver. You learned that you are responsible for your driver's training and for keeping a number of records related to your drivers. You also must maintain a discipline policy for drivers, to ensure you address and remedy problems immediately.

If you haven’t done so already, take some time now to develop and write down your hiring policy, your discipline policy and get your drivers’ records in order. If you have drivers to train, put your training plan together.

In the next module, you will learn about the most detailed aspect of training your drivers: Hours of Service.

NOTE: To complete the training, save your progress and receive a certificate, you are required to have an account and be logged in with 511 Alberta.

Self-Assessment