In recent years, the bus industry has experienced rapid growth as travelers seek cheaper and less burdensome alternatives to auto and air travel. Accompanying this fast rate of growth is a promise from federal agencies to exact more oversight and punish or even close those operators who violate regulations.
Key to complying with federal regulations is the implementation of an effective driver screening and drug testing program.
It may be that these new “curbside carriers” have been reluctant to properly check their drivers because of the perceived cost of such a program, but in reality, a good screening program saves money in the long run through avoidance of costly fines, the hiring of better drivers, and more confidence from potential passengers.
There are a number of easy steps a bus carrier can take to implement an effective, affordable and compliant driver screening program:
- Start with eliminating candidates who don’t meet basic criteria.
Ordering a package of screening products like a DAC Employment History File, DAC Widescreen Criminal Search, Social Security Number trace, and a Commercial Driver’s License Information (CDLIS) Plus can help bus carriers exclude unqualified drivers. Products like these are very cost-effective with quick turnaround times, so information is in hand for a speedy decision.
- Perform additional screening on your most promising candidates.
From here, you can expand the scope of a background check to include elements like motor vehicle records, employment verifications (if former employers do not participate in the DAC Employment History File), and drug and alcohol violation history verification as well as an in-depth criminal background check based on your applicant’s residential history. This step provides an additional layer of background information you can use to make a more educated employment decision.
- Meet requirements for drug, alcohol, and health screening.
Perform a compliant pre-employment drug test to rule out any users of controlled substances and conduct the physical exam.
- Schedule ongoing screening to maintain safety.
Drug and alcohol tests performed randomly and post-accident are a key element of a compliant driver safety program, as is a monthly monitoring program like a Driver Violation Alert. Finally, annual driving record reviews and driver physicals (due every 2 years) complete the ongoing screening necessary for an effective screening program.
With growing federal oversight, it is incumbent on bus carriers to ensure that their driver screening programs meet all necessary rules and regulations. Though meeting these administrative requirements may seem like a daunting and expensive task, breaking down the process into easily performed steps will help carriers hire the best drivers, retain that talent, attract new passengers and avoid costly fines.
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