Application Documents – Be Prepared!

Happy New Year! With the New Year, some of you will look for a new driving position. Here are some common errors or mistakes on application documents. This topic is very important for both the driver applicant and the safety office of the company receiving the documents. Why is it necessary or even critical? It always comes down to ‘liability’ for the carrier. If the driver applicant completes the application or qualification forms incorrectly, then they risk the chance of being terminated. So everyone needs to be protected, both the carrier and applicant. You can do this by not making any errors.

One error is an incomplete, driver application, qualification form. If there is a spot or blank on the application form, fill it in. Don’t leave anything blank. I know that we are in Canada and many of the trucking companies do cross-border work. The USA FMCSR (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) requires that you fill out all items such as driving experience. The driving experience section is to include the types of vehicles and work that you have done. For example, this could be tanker work, flat deck work and dry van hauling.

Most application documents have a section for crashes. The application will stipulate how far back the company wants you to go. Most application forms require either three or five years of information in this section. You will need to know the collision details. Where it happened, were there any injuries and/or any fatalities? Of course, the date of the accident is essential.

The same information is also required for any convictions that you have received in the last few years. You will need to know the date and the charge that you were convicted of.

It is shocking to me that safety people accept an application form and fail to scrutinize it carefully so that the form can either pass an audit or the review of an insurance professional.

As a driver applicant, you might be wondering why an insurance company would review your application form? The insurance company is betting millions of dollars that the safety department of a trucking company is doing their job correctly and screening out unacceptable drivers. On a regular basis, most trucking insurance companies will review the fleets hiring practices and techniques. Of course, the insurance company is also very interested in who was operating the truck if you have a crash. The insurance provider must then defend both the trucking company and the driver and because it is for potentially millions of dollars, they need accurate information to represent both.

If there has been a crash, there will be a prosecuting attorney out there whose job it is to make everyone on the defense side look silly and incompetent. In the case of a severe crash, most lawyers are now being paid by a percentage of the settlement. They have a vested interest in creating an atmosphere to obtain the highest compensation. Making a trucking company and their drivers look incompetent in their hiring process is often not difficult if the driver files are not entirely complete.

So when you the driver are applying for a new position, make it easy on the company accepting your application form. Be prepared. Come with a list of your past employers for the last 10 years. Make sure that you have the name of each company, the address, phone number and the contact names for each of your past employers. You’ll need the starting dates and finishing dates for each of the companies. Make a list of any crashes with all the details and a similar record for any convictions in the last five years. This’ll make completing an application form very easy for you and it will speed up the process for the safety department of the trucking company.

If it is possible, bring letters of experience with you. Getting references completed and verifying your experience is the most time-consuming and challenging thing that your new company has to achieve. If you can help them in any way to speed up this process by providing them with the correct information, it will be a great help. For each past employer, show the contact name and phone number, making sure that this is accurate as it will make it much easier for your new employer. Each employer is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to verify at least your last three years of truck driving experience. Most insurance companies dealing with trucking are also demanding that trucking companies verify at least three years of a driver’s experience. As already stated, this is the most time-consuming and challenging part of the job application. Think about it before you apply and see what you can do to make it easier for the trucking company.

If you come prepared to complete the job application and you make it easy for the trucking company to verify your experience, it says to the trucking company that you are a professional driver and one that they need on their side. In other words, make yourself stand out from the crowd. And the best trucking companies will really appreciate your efforts and get you on board quickly.

So be safe out there!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.