Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its expanded Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP).
This is a win-win-win-win proposition. Employers can easily determine which drivers are the safest and most responsible. The general public gets safer roads. Drivers with good habits can easily prove their track records. As for unsafe drivers – the program can help steer them toward more appropriate employment.
Before the PSP program launched, companies had to rely on references and insurance records alone to predict whether or not a prospective employee would be safe on the highways. The original version of the PSP allowed member employers to access three years of crash history – and five years of inspection data – for each driver by using an online database with an applicant’s consent.
The risks associated with hiring an unsafe driver are significant, both for the employer and for the public at large. Over a million life-changing injuries happen in 18-wheeler accidents each year, with approximately 5,000 of them resulting in death. Some of these happen due to circumstances the driver can’t control, but others are caused by negligent driving. Still others come from unsafe practices like stimulant use, or cheating on driver logs to run for extra hours without the legally mandated rest and sleep periods.
Texas is a particularly hazardous state for tractor-trailer accidents. We had about 400 fatalities last year. That’s 8 percent of the nation’s deaths from this kind of accidents. Houston has several very serious semi truck wrecks every week.
The expansion for the PSP focuses on ease of use, streamlining their online portal and offering an app available free for iPhones and iPads. The DOT hopes this easier access will encourage more companies to use the service for pre-employment screening of their potential drivers.
Employers can access an individual driver’s record for $10, or buy an annual subscription for $25 to $100, depending on the size of the company. This is an excellent investment. Companies that hire unsafe drivers are often considered negligent and at fault for harm caused by a semi truck accident involving their fleet. The damages are often in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. This program is basically a kind of insurance, and the cheapest insurance a trucking company is likely to buy this year.