PSP likely to change driver hiring process

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When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new Pre-Employment Screening Program began offering reports of recent crash and inspection histories for new potential driver hires and owner-operator lessees last May, Elaine Briles was an early adopter. But the director of safety, compliance and fleet services with Dart Transit suffered through what many carriers have since both that program and Comprehensive Safety Analyis 2010 data became available.

“When this became available to us, there was some paralysis” led by “too much information,” Briles told a CCJ-moderated “Best Practices” session of the Truckload Carriers Association’s Independent Contractor Division Meeting on Friday, Aug. 27, in Dallas. “Onboarding drivers by using PSP is a way we can put a little control on it.”

Chief among Briles’ initial questions about how to use the PSP were where exactly to draw the line with new drivers and lessees on violations. “How much is too much before you tell a driver, ‘I can’t bring you on.’”

Reflecting the experience of some other carriers represented in the room, Briles noted that Dart doesn’t “run one on every driver applicant.” Rather, the company uses the PSP report as a final clearing report after a driver successfully emerges from employment history matching, criminal background checks and other early processes. One reason for the wait is the cost. “It is expensive,” she says. “We don’t immediately run PSP – it’s $10 for each report.”

Another has to do with information control. “One reason we’ve gotten into this is we felt like it was important. Minnesota is a CSA 2010 test state – and we were one of the first companies to be audited. We were joined in May [2009] and were audited by July.” The company, says Briles, knew the new system was important and became fully engaged with the question of what exactly to do with the data. “We tried to reason it out and not become hysterical.”

Briles said it has been useful in a few different ways, one of which was to locate past driver employers or lessors the driver or lessee didn’t report himself. “A lot of the mom and pops don’t use DAC,” she said. “Normally, we have found drivers won’t tell you about a job because there’s something there they don’t want you to know.” On a PSP report, a crash history going back five years is included, as well as an inspection history going back three years. “About three times a month we find someone” among their up to 2,000 monthly applicants “who’s not been truthful about their work history.”

Briles said the PSP report can help you better identify an otherwise great driver’s problems areas to focus initial training in particular areas. For instance, for the first time, carriers can see clearly via the PSP whether a driver has had hours-of-service issues in the past. Briles said Dart’s approach to such drivers will be to offer a conditional hire or lease. “We tell them the only opportunity [they’ll have to] come on board with us is to go with the paperless logs.”

A new era of driver marketing, combined with a growing sense of a building driver shortage in the carrier community, could well arise from the PSP. Briles believes its connection to CSA 2010, with its focus on the inclusion of all violations – no matter how small – in safety scoring could well lead to a time when drivers will approach carriers waving a copy of their PSP and saying, “I have a perfect PSP. How much are you going to pay me?”