How Should Trucking Companies Respond to the Nice Attack?
When a man took the wheel of a truck in the southern French city of Nice last month and killed 84 people and injured more than 200, the world was horrified. The rented truck weighed about 20 tons and drove along a crowded boulevard for more than a mile mowing down revelers who were celebrating a French holiday along the Mediterranean Sea. In the wake of this horrific event, how are trucking companies here in the U.S. ensuring that their fleet of trucks and their truck operators will not do the same harm?
What Should Trucking Companies Learn from the Nice Attack?
The trucking industry has frantically been trying to solve the problem by offering better incentives and lowering the minimum requirements for becoming a driver. But are lowering hiring standards a responsible position to take?
Some trucking companies are hiring drivers with little to no experience in order to meet hiring targets. If there was ever an event that should cause the industry to shift focus from speed hiring back towards safety and security, this is it.
The trucking industry prides itself on its tight regulatory atmosphere and focus on safety—from the moment a candidate fills out an application all the way throughout their driving employment.
Once employed, drivers must pass routine inspections and safety checks. Before a prospective driver can even take the wheel of a truck, they are required to pass background checks including: motor vehicle records, employment history, and commercial driver’s license history.
It’s imperative that trucking companies perform at least one type of criminal record history background check on prospective employees. These include national criminal record searches, county-level searches for misdemeanors and felonies, state searches, and federal criminal district searches.
These checks will reveal if a prospect has any criminal convictions, civil cases, and traffic records; additional background checks will reveal if the prospect has been fired or has been convicted of sex offences, the state of their credit status and job history.
Drug testing is an important component to hiring a driver. Urine analysis, breath alcohol, saliva, blood, and hair testing are all used to determine if a prospect should be hired.
Trucking firms, as well as the Department of Transportation (DOT), also want to ensure that their drivers are physically fit to drive large rigs on a daily basis. Individuals who want to operate commercial motor vehicles must receive certification that they are physically qualified by a medical examiner.
Once hired, trucking companies should maintain a tight grip over their drivers, regularly assessing their safety records.
The DOT requires trucking firms to keep up-to-date qualification records and safety performance histories for each of its drivers as well as documenting each driver’s hours of service. Drivers must also comply with commercial motor vehicle (CMV) entry-level driver training requirements, according to the DOT.
Another oversight on truck drivers is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which tracks the safety records of more than half a million interstate trucking companies, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration watch list; both organizations look for excessive violations by truck drivers and seize the trucks for roadside inspections.
What if a trucking company receives an applicant from a foreign country who wants to drive? What type of background check can be done?
First, the trucking company must show proof that there are an insufficient amount of qualified U.S. workers for the driving position. If that can be proved, the applicant must apply for a Foreign Labor Certification and must maintain a Class C regular car license for a minimum of one year before being eligible for CDL.
The trucking industry has a well-earned reputation for employing safe and well-trained drivers. Its immediate goal is to protect the driver and its rig and to maintain the security of vehicles and their passengers sharing the same roads.
In the wake of the terror attack in Nice, the U.S. trucking industry needs to continue to be vigilant and provide the strictest measures to protect its drivers and the public.
TWIC Card Requirements For All Drivers
The Government requires all drivers who enter a U.S. Port to possess a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card. The TWIC cards are part of a government program that was put in place to shield against certain types of threats for workers who need access to designated sensitive work sites.
These members include longshoreman, truck drivers, Merchant Marines, and anyone who needs regular access to these government sites without a security escort.
To obtain a TWIC card, candidates must go through a rigorous application procedure. First, applicants must get fingerprinted and in some cases have a retinal exam. Once this information is collected the applicant goes through extensive background checks. The process is governed by The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) division, and the card itself has a special microchip that needs to be scanned into a reader.
This program was developed to further vet individuals who must gain daily access to the ports, and other sensitive military facilities. In the wake of recent mass shootings, any breach of security at a port or a power plant could result in catastrophic consequences.
With truckers transporting consumer goods, most of which originate from manufacturing plants overseas it begs to ask the question if a nationwide requirement of further background checks on par with the TWIC vetting process should be in place for truck drivers nationwide?
What is NRS Doing to Improve Security?
THE DOT currently requires trucking companies to obtain 10 years of employment history from all applicants – 3 years must be verified by the potential employer. NRS currently validates a full 10 years of employment for ALL truck driver applicants to ensure only the most qualified candidates are selected.
Furthermore, NRS requires all applicants to have a minimum of 1 year of current CDL driving experience. There are cases where NRS accepts applicants to training programs – drivers are closely monitored and required to complete a probationary period before they are certified to operate a truck.
In Los Angeles, NRS already requires local drivers to obtain TWIC cards. Currently only Port drivers are mandated to obtain this certification, but NRS has increased security by requiring all local drivers to take the extra step of obtaining their TWIC.
By requiring local drivers to complete their TWIC certification, these candidates are comprehensively screened which includes checks from the Department of Homeland Security.
After the Nice attack it is important that trucking companies respond to help prevent a similar tragedy. Requiring all truck drivers to complete a TWIC certification or an equivalent Government program should be considered for the safety of the public and to reduce the chances of a similar event occurring in the U.S.
The Ultimate 3PL
National Retail Systems, Inc. (NRS) includes Keystone Freight Corp. & National Retail Transportation, Inc. (NRT). NRS is an asset based 3PL that has been providing logistics services for the World’s leading retail companies for 60+ years. Our hub locations include: New York & New Jersey; Los Angeles, CA; Inland Empire, CA; Savannah, GA; Columbus, OH; Greensboro, NC; and Baltimore, MD.