Business & Investment

Perspective: Driver screening in the era of last mile trucks

This commentary was written by Aaron Wise of iiX, who provides car records to employers. The views expressed here are the views of the author only and do not necessarily represent the views of Freight Waves or its affiliates.

Aaron Wise

The ever-digitizing economy of the last decade, with impacts from consumer demand to the supply chain, has put serious pressure on the truck industry, hiring and sorting qualified drivers to transport ever-increasing tonnage. I’m asking you to.

The US Truck Tonnage Index for March 2011 was 86.9. By March 2021, it was 105.7. This represents more than 20% growth in goods that travel domestically by truck. Even the pandemic-related supply chain turmoil couldn’t eliminate the decade’s surge. In fact, the blockade of COVID-19 added to the surge in consumer purchases online, adding to the need for drivers.

But it’s not just the volume of cargo that has changed. The way it moves is also different. Online shopping is increasing the demand for last mile trucks that deliver goods directly to consumer doors as well as retail stores. This last step is time consuming and costly, but it is the basis for the level of customer satisfaction that many shippers are trying to achieve.

Many last mile deliveries occur on small vehicles traveling on short routes with operators who do not require a commercial driver’s license. Therefore, driver screening may require more tools and additional or alternative metrics.

The last mile job shouldn’t be considered easy, it’s just different. These drivers often face more volatile driving scenarios, such as:

— Unpredictable traffic encountered in dense urban and suburban environments.

— Bicycles and pedestrians that are more common on local streets where last mile drivers tend to drive.

— Move and deliver only the cargo — and generally interact more with the item in transit. This can increase the compensation risk for workers.

The last aspect may include the assembly or installation of the customer’s purchase. This is usually a level of interaction with consumers that is not associated with delivery services other than major consumer electronics and household furniture.

Due to the narrow definition of qualifications and the opportunities for traditional home lifestyles, these jobs appeal to a wide range of potential employers. It may expand the pool of available workforce, but it is not the same type of fleet and workforce as long-haul trucks with larger tractors and trailers.

And despite the wide range of candidates, competition can be fierce for the best hires. These applicants may have multiple companies seeking their services, and employers who can move fast may have an advantage.

Due to the variety of driving and working scenarios and the lack of CDL requirements for other types of commercial driving, companies need the agility to properly identify and screen driver applicants. Finding an operator with clean driving records and quality experience usually requires some standard reports.

— The MVR (Automobile Report) includes a history of driver accidents, traffic violations, and drunk driving, whether you are driving a commercial or private vehicle.

— If applicable, CDLIS (Commercial Driver’s License Information System Search) and DOT Employment Verification provide important background information.

Unrelevant CDLIS searches increase the need for additional education, employment, and background validation to ensure that potential drivers are experienced and capable during the unpredictable last mile. There is a possibility. With these insights at hand, shippers can be better placed to meet their fast-growing needs.

The biggest challenge in driver screening is to put everything together. While the series of reports is valuable, they are from multiple jurisdictions and government levels (counties, states, or federals), and the level of coordination between them is uncertain. How can businesses get the information they need to hire last mile drivers quickly and efficiently?

Some companies are looking to digital systems that deliver reports from different sources in parallel. Not only can these systems be hired quickly and confidently, but they can also support continuous monitoring of employees during their tenure. Its monitoring is important, especially due to the inconsistent driving conditions that many last mile drivers may encounter.

Ultimately, with the growth of today’s delivery economy and rising consumer expectations, there is one thing that is certain. That is, the work will not be completed until the last mile is covered.

About the author

Aaron Wise has been in the risk management business for 12 years and has been working with iiX since May 2015 to help companies drive risk, mitigate responsibility and manage costs.

Perspective: Driver screening in the era of last mile trucks Perspective: Driver screening in the era of last mile trucks

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