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Have drivers? Know the rules and train to be safe and in compliance

By Connie Lannan

August 16, 2023

With 57 drivers, including four who have their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), driver safety is taken very seriously at Event Source, based in Cleveland, and Panache Events and So Cool Events, both based in Pompano Beach, Fla. Training begins on Day One of every employee’s orientation.

“All of our drivers are required to take the American Rental Association’s (ARA) driver safety courses, including ARA’s Professional Driver Education Program and the Box Truck Training, and complete our other safety and training initiatives. Our operation generally runs non-CDL-based box trucks under 26,000 lbs. Our CDL drivers are expected to drive our box trucks, too, in addition to our semis, so these courses can offer new information or refamiliarize them with the rules and regulations,” says Ryan O’Donnell, CERP, director of transportation.

After the initial online training, each new driver rides as a passenger with veteran drivers for the first four to six weeks.

“We have a 60-day training/tracking regimen. We bring them in for training with a supervisor. Then that supervisor makes sure they complete the training initiatives by their 60-day period. By week four or six, they are getting behind the wheel, teamed up to run a multi-track route with another veteran driver. By the end of week six, they are running their own routes,” O’Donnell says.

But that is just the beginning. Training and updates continue. “Since our drivers are working around the clock, we send emails to them daily. All our drivers have company-based iPhones, and each has a certified company email to receive messages and notifications,” he says.

While the box trucks are used to make most of the deliveries across five different states, the CDL drivers transport the company’s significant amount of inventory longer distances, between Cleveland and Pompano Beach, Fla.

With all these different routes, O’Donnell, his managers, supervisors and drivers must be in the know about all the different regulations and protocols when it comes to state and federal Department of Transportation (DOT) safety regulations and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.

“Because all our vehicles weigh more than 10,000 lbs., there are a lot of commercial driving rules we must understand. DOT-regulated rules are different for box trucks — whether for weight rating, passing in a third lane, stopping at weigh stations and hours you can work in a day/week. There are additional rules for CDL drivers. Not only do they have to have their up-to-date medical cards, but they also must have an active CDL behind their license and are put into a different drug testing pool,” O’Donnell says, adding that “we are constantly reading and understanding to learn the ever- changing rules and keep our drivers in the know so everyone stays safe and in compliance.”

Even with the best training, accidents can happen. When they do, the company immediately implements an incident report to determine what occurred, what steps need to be taken and what can be learned from the situation.

O’Donnell realizes that not all rental operators have the resources offered to him and his team. To assist, he suggests that rental operators:

  • Spend the time to learn the different rules. “There are a lot of regulations and each state is different, so understanding each state you are driving in and their truck driving regulations is important,” he says.
  • Ask a lot of questions.
  • Make friends with others in the industry, including trucking partners, to learn from them.
  • Use the resources from ARA and other sources.
  • Be aware of the hours your drivers are working and the weight rating of each vehicle to understand how much you can transport. “Our box trucks can hold up to 7,000 lbs. of equipment. A lot of people think you can just fill them full. CDLs can hold up to 39,000 lbs. of equipment. We have a weight on all our pieces,” he says.

When it comes to driver safety, O’Donnell stresses that it needs to be an initiative the whole company embraces. It is also an initiative that takes patience. “There will be accidents. Don’t be foolish. Do things the smart way and take your time,” he says.