Firing a Driver (for HOS issues) is like Killing the Messenger

Firing a driver is like killing the messenger – it’s a kneejerk reaction and it does not solve the underlying problem.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this: “This driver lied on his logs – so we fired this driver.” Or, “ALL three of those speeding tickets were from one driver – so we fired that driver.”

A motor carrier must have a system to ensure logs are not falsified. A motor carrier must have a system to ensure drivers comply with state and local laws.

Firing one driver will not solve a problem when that problem is non-compliance in either of these areas.

Let’s say you are Acme Trucking: There was a driver who lied on his logs. Then you fired him.

Now the FMCSA is looking at your logs and they are STILL going to threaten you with fines because of false logs. If more than 10% of the logs they look at are falsified, this is a critical or acute violation.

So you tell the investigator, “WE FIRED THE DRIVER ?? – ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?”

The short answer is, NO – firing the driver does not fix the problem. “I fired the driver” is not an excuse, nor is it a positive action.

Think of it this way: if you have multiple bad drivers – who constantly speed or lie on their logs – then maybe your HIRING PROCESS needs to be revised.

It’s like you were fishing for tuna and you caught some kind of garbage fish on the line, so you throw the unwanted species overboard. Did that fix the problem? No – in fact, you may be fishing at the wrong depth or using the wrong bait.

An investigator could easily say, “So you fired that guy – so what? You are still fishing in the same pond that trash fish came out of, using the same boat, bait and tackle – you haven’t REALLY changed anything.”

Sometimes, a “public execution” can be seen as a positive action. In other words, make sure the OTHER drivers know their coworker was fired for lying on his logs, and DOCUMENT that this information has been disseminated. But the positive impact does not come from the fired driver – the positive impact comes from the remaining drivers, if they choose to modify their behavior to keep from being fired.

But there are many ways to modify driver behavior, short of firing a driver. The first is to schedule them legally and pro-actively – don’t force them to lie, don’t give them a chance to break the rules, and don’t give them a reason to break the rules.

The bottom line is: it is your job to select, hire, train and supervise drivers who do not lie on their logs, or accumulate too many moving violations, etc. To be a successful motor carrier, you need to manage their behavior. One technique might be to teach them that lying on their logs is a bad business decision for them, which could result in losing their livelihood or even their freedom.

If you have NEVER provided any training on HOS reporting, then the only place the drivers have learned this skill is in the bathroom at the truck stop – it is where they learn to lie on their logs. No one there tells them NOT to lie on their logs. It is YOUR job, as the safety manager, to teach this important concept to your drivers.

If you are the new safety manager and all your drivers are in the habit of providing false information, you have to find a way to make them understand they are required and expected to complete their logs honestly, accurately, neatly and completely, and remit them in a timely fashion.

This is not an easy thing to do, but hey, that’s why they pay you the big bucks, right?

About DOT Compliance Help Inc
Phone: 847-836-6063 web: e-mail DOT Compliance Help, Inc. is a full-service consulting firm specializing in the interpretation and execution of the regulations and guidelines set forth by the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. •Mission Statement• To assist our clients in establishing proper safety management controls in order to minimize accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The ultimate goals are safer roadways for the public and increased profits for our clients. Our core consulting competencies include FMCSA Assessments (mock audits), DOT compliance training (on-site and via webinar) and custom safety plans and policies. We also hold DOT compliance workshops and conferences all across the country. Utilizing a proprietary curriculum developed by our President, Mike England, our classes cover everything you need to know about the FMCSRs, how to survive your next DOT Compliance Review, and how Comprehensive safety Analysis (CSA 2010) will affect you.

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