Your company vehicles and the equipment they transport are amongst your most valuable assets. Any person who could be responsible for or in control of a company vehicle should be subject to a written test and a driver evaluation to determine their skill level in relation to operating a motor vehicle in order to protect these assets. Any specialized skills that may go along with operating that vehicle should also be assessed. This is referred to as a road test/auxiliary equipment test.
The assessment can provide valuable feedback to the employer and employees about their driving abilities and behaviors behind the wheel. It can also indicate any additional training that may be necessary before that employee is authorized to drive on company time. Per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “The employer may accept a CDL in lieu of a road test if the driver is required to successfully complete a road test to obtain a CDL in the State of issuance. However, if the employer intends to assign to the driver a vehicle necessitating the doubles/triples or tank vehicle endorsement, the employer must administer the road test under §391.31 in a representative vehicle.” (FMCSA)
Road tests should be completed by the carrier only after prospective drivers have demonstrated a degree of skill on an off-road course, such as a parking lot. A carrier may elect another competent person or business to administer the road test. Even if the carrier receives a seasoned driver, it is still a best practice to have a road test performed to verify that the skills they report transfer to the road.
Developing a road test
- Tests should be done using the same kind of equipment that the prospective applicant will be operating within the job role. This test must be of ample time to allow the competent person/trainer who is administering the test to evaluate the skillset of the driver.
- All results of the road test/auxiliary equipment test should be documented and kept within the personnel file of that employee for further evaluation, defense, and other recordkeeping aids.
- Once the test is administered, the information should be analyzed to determine areas of improvement for the driver, areas of acceptable skills, and areas that the driver did not successfully meet pre-determined standards.
The road test should include the three components discussed below.
The first section of the road test administered should be a pre-trip inspection. Pre-trip inspections should include general vehicle inspections and how to operate any equipment specific to that vehicle. If a trailer will be utilized in operation, coupling and uncoupling procedures should be covered. It is very important that inspections drill down on the road worthiness of that vehicle. These standards should be based on the manufacturer’s recommendations of that vehicle.
Before an open-road examination is administered, basic vehicle handling should be analyzed. This analysis should be designed based on the type of vehicle and all related functions of the job. This test analysis should include:
- Straight-line backing
- Offset backing
- Parallel parking
- Alley dock
A prospective driver should be evaluated on their ability to operate a vehicle on the road. A predetermined course should be set up to present an extensive array of conditions of driving and operating that the driver may encounter. These conditions should include:
- Observing traffic signs
- Observing traffic signals
- Observing other traffic
- Using vehicle controls
- Maintaining proper lane positions
- Downgrades stopping
- Upgrade stopping
- Railroad crossing
- Bridge clearance
The purpose of a road test is to analyze the ability and skills of the driver to operate the vehicle defensively. It will also provide an indication of the driver's attitude towards driving and safety. One can assume that the prospective driver will be attempting to perform the tasks in the safest manner and to the best of their abilities. Bad driving habits are not easy to hide. In most cases, will be obvious to a qualified evaluator.
Each segment of the test has a purpose. The purpose should be explained, maybe at times demonstrated by the qualified/competent person administering the examination before the test starts. Directions given should be clear and concise to eliminate confusion. Sufficient time to perform the mandated maneuvers safely and adequately must be provided to the prospective driver. Questions and conversations should be limited to the test itself. The final determination of the driver’s current level of expertise and training needed should be determined by the qualified/competent person conducting the test. The qualified/competent person will also be determining what training will be needed in the immediate future to bring this driver’s skill up to satisfactory levels.
- FMCSA,2018, 8 Motor Carrier, FMCSA, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/how-does-student-enrolled-driver-training-school-comply
- FMCSA,2018, 8 Motor Carrier, FMCSA, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/391.31
- FMCSA,2018, 8 Motor Carrier, FMCSA, Road test | FMCSA (dot.gov)
This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.