Why Is Driver/Operator Selection Important?

The drivers/operators have the most impact on preventing accidents/incidents in operating the vehicles within a fleet. Fleet safety may be viewed as vehicle safety or mechanical safety, but this type of safety depends upon both maintenance and operators. An operator's job must include preoperation inspections and, upon completing his/her use of the vehicle, the reporting of any defects. This should be normal operating procedure for any preventive maintenance program. Nevertheless, what can be expected is dependent upon the quality of the drivers/operators. Operators are the center of the fleet safety program.

Thus, in a fleet safety program, it is important to select the best operators for the job. The operator is vital to the prevention of accidents, incidents, vehicle damage, and injuries. Careful selection of the operator is paramount to an effective fleet safety program. The selection process should involve access to an operator's past employment history, driving record (including accidents), commendations, and awards, as well as previous operator's experience.

This is why as a condition of employment and based upon the criteria in a written job description, all potential operators should be able to pass a physical and mental examination and an alcohol/drug test.

To improve fleet safety, adequately qualified drivers must be recruited and their performance monitored. The great majority of preventable accidents can be shown to be directly related to the performance of the driver. It is therefore extremely productive to any fleet safety program to carefully conduct new driver selection and adequate monitoring procedures for existing drivers.

An established formal procedure for interviewing, testing, and screening applicants needs to be in place. A defined standard of skill and knowledge should be met by successful applicants. Appropriate methods should be in place to check out previous employment histories and references of all potential operators. A check of the prior driving records of the applicants must be performed.

Once an operator is hired, there should be a formal program for monitoring his/her performance, a periodic review of his/her driving record, and a periodic review of his/her health. Operators should be monitored occasionally for drug and alcohol abuse. A means should be in place for identifying deficiencies in an operator's skills and knowledge, and a procedure should be in place for remedial training. It is well worth the effort to establish a procedure for terminating unqualified operators.

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