At a trucking law conference this summer, a panel debated whether a company should run a PSP on prospective hires. Some raised the question of the potential impact in a lawsuit if you got a bad PSP report on a driver. I had one question — what’s there to debate. A PSP must be obtained. The information cannot be ignored. There are several reasons.
“For $10, you would have known of the history of the driver to whom you entrusted your truck.” That’s the question you will be asked at trial if you don’t run a PSP and find out what is there to be found. Ignorance is neither a defense nor a choice. Not getting the information only adds another potential claim against you for your failure to do so.
If the PSP presents a problematic history you have two choices. First, if there are isolated areas or non-serious violations, consider addressing the problems as part of your hiring process. Provide pre-employment training in the specific area(s) in which the violations appear. Vigillo reports that most CSA points arise from speed, visible vehicle defects, and log violations that are frequently form and function. These are potentially curable habits. Increase supervision to reform the conduct. Provide a period of probation to demonstrate compliance with the required conduct. Perhaps all of the above.
Document what you did, why you did it, and what results you produced to justify employing the driver in light of his PSP record. Be able to produce your training plan for the driver and the results you achieved. Recognizing and addressing the problem is defensible. Ignoring the problem is just that…a problem. Additionally, the PSP gives you other information that is important in the hiring process. You may see other employers that the driver failed to list on his application. Without the PSP, you may not learn of these employers until after the accident occurs.
In signing on owner-operators, you are provided insight into their equipment and its maintenance. Again, it is better to know before you sign them on rather than when you are on the phone with a shipper or broker while the unit is incapacitated by mechanical failure or an out-of-service violation.
Not get a PSP? Not an option.