I remember roll call one evening when I was a young police officer in 1980. We were discussing truckers and the threat those big rigs posed, not only from a highway safety perspective, but how they can be deadly weapons in the hand of terrorists, for so many reasons and in so many ways. That was long before 9/11 when terrorism was not the omnipresent threat that it is today.
Three years after becoming a police officer, I joined the FBI. During my 24 year career, which took me several years past 9/11, I witnessed the changing face of national security and our awareness of the importance of our transportation infrastructure, as well as its vulnerabilities. The trucking industry plays a key role in keeping our economy moving and our country safe.
There are many issues that can be addressed when discussing trucks and security. From terrorism and cargo theft to hazardous materials and human trafficking, the trucking industry plays an integral role in our national security. And, as someone who hires truckers to drive for you, you assume a tremendous amount of responsibility, morally and legally.
There are many legal theories under which an employer will be held liable for the actions of their employees. Respondent Superior, Vicarious Liability, Strict Liability, and Imputed Negligence are some of those theories that may work against you if your employees are found negligent when acting as your agent. Of course, you rely on insurance to mitigate financial risk. But, shouldn’t an employer employ risk management from the very outset – beginning with the hiring process.
After retiring from the FBI, I founded SPIRIT Asset Protection, LLC as a security and risk management consulting firm. One of the primary services offered is pre-employment background screening. I have been amazed by the lack of concern employers have shown for properly screening potential employees.
Most screening involves checking criminal records. Yet, that process is more complex than simply running a “check” on some internet website. The existence of a criminal record should not automatically disqualify someone for employment. In some states, that may be illegal. An employer must make a fair and informed decision, not only for hiring, but for the nature of a work assignment. Assure that your use of criminal records for employment purposes is legal within your state and compliant with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The trucking industry has an additional challenge to screening potential employees. Before putting someone behind the wheel of a multi-ton weapon, you better know if that person can really handle it. Recently, I was discussing trucking security with a friend of mine who is a commander in a state police department. He brought to my attention a recent and very troubling trend that affects almost every aspect of trucking – fraudulent Commercial Driver Licenses.
A CDL can be fraudulent in two ways. First, it can be a license that is not a valid state document; it was illegally manufactured. Unfortunately, this not very difficult to do and I discussed this with a local news station: License to Hide. While these fraudulent documents may be of high quality, they can be detected. First, assure that a driver license verification is a required step in your pre-employment screening. Also, look carefully at the license; compare it to a known valid license from the same state. Look for the holograms and similar security markings designed to detect fraud. Sometimes, a close inspection can reveal flaws within the fraudulent license. If you have doubts, call your local police. If you are sure that the license is a fraud – that is another reason to notify police. A fraudulent license is dangerous and a crime.
The other type of fraudulent CDL is a legitimate state driver license in which the CDL endorsements have been added on by a corrupt Department of Motor Vehicle employee. These are more difficult to detect. This is why a thorough pre-employment screening is so vital. Criminal record checks, prior employment verifications and driving records checks may raise some red warning flags. And, before you send a driver on the road, assure that he/she can do what they say they can do. Observe and verify. Give them your own driving test.
After retiring from the FBI in 2007, I wrote my first book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People. In this book, I relate true stories from my years as a police officer and FBI Agent to highlight risk management techniques every business person can use on a daily basis. One chapter describes a hypothetical crisis experienced by a fictitious trucking company. I do not know why I chose a trucking company. But that proved fortuitous.
Recently, my company expanded into the transportation compliance services business: DOT Compliance Services. We help trucking companies remain compliant and manage risk. I guess it was meant to be.