Driver mentorship: How to create a new driver mentoring program in 5 easy steps

It’s hard to find experienced, qualified fleet drivers in today’s labour market. The driver pool is slim and finding someone with driving experience is nearly impossible.

And yet the demand for experienced drivers is as high as it’s ever been. According to Trucking HR Canada’s CEO Angela Splinter, the last couple of years have been tough on commercial companies.

“During Q3 2022, the unemployment rate for truck drivers fell by more than half to 2.1% compared to the same period in 2021. Job postings for truck drivers are going unfilled for longer periods. In 2021, the percentage of jobs that were posted for more than 90 days went from 18% at the start of the year to 40% by the end,” she shared on the Trucking HR website.

Carriers and logistics are left with few options but to hire drivers who have little to no experience – even straight out of driving school. However, this practice becomes a problem as most insurance companies won’t insure “New Entrant Commercial Drivers”.

Aviva Canada Risk Management Solutions has developed five easy steps to help carriers create a mentoring program as they bring on new drivers. When a new driving program like this is established, they will be able to have more productive conversations with underwriters as they discuss insurance solutions.

Step 1 | Driver hiring and processing

Part of the driver hiring process should include proof of all of these elements:

  • Three years of work history (verify and confirm gaps in employment)
  • List of all collisions and Highway Traffic Act violations
  • Copy of driver’s license
  • Government-issued driver record (abstract)
  • Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (must be dated within 30 days of the job offer)
  • Criminal background check
  • Completed DSQ driver behavior survey
  • Letter of course completion from driving school
  • Road test, Pre-trip, Airbrake Pre-trip, hook and unhook (for articulated units)

Step 2 | Driver training, mentoring, and coaching program

Provide each new hire a competent mentor within the company. This mentor should be able to effectively communicate all functions and processes, have a clear understanding of the company, client and regulatory policy and have a clean driving record.

Driver mentorship can help new hires improve their driving skills and become confident behind the wheel.

First 3 months of the training program:

  • In cab, hands on mentoring opportunities. This includes company-approved coach rides with training on the unit, the job and the extra skill required that is unique to the company. The employer will determine the duration of this part of the training.
  • When possible, shadow the new driver in another truck to assist as needed.
  • Conduct long haul operations as a team. The new hire will drive in daylight hours only for an acceptable amount of time.
  • Monitor solo operation with witnessed feedback and telematics data from the driving mentor.

At the end of 3 months of the training program:

  • Review observations with the driver and determine next steps, including any additional training
  • Review all telematics data, i.e. speed, harsh braking, HOS, etc.
  • Review and discuss any complaints. Note how the driver takes direction.
  • Review any violations of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).
  • Review any damages, minor or major. (Consistent damage is a sign of an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.)
  • Review the driver’s mental health, stress, and capacity for training. These elements need to be evaluated and understood, not rushed when training new members.

Step 3 | 6-month driver mentorship review

This review should include all elements of the 3-month review and should also include a motor vehicle record/abstract (MVR) review. It is important to monitor a driver’s behaviour in a personal vehicle as well as the company unit.

All concerns, violations, and incidents – including near miss and collisions – must be recoded, documented and placed in the driver’s qualification file.

Step 4 | 9-month driver mentorship review

This step can be an internal review that includes all the elements of previous reviews, including telematics data, violations, complaints, incidents, near misses and collisions. The review will ensure that driver skills are up to par with driving standards. Corrective action or coaching may be required.

The review must be documented and placed in the driver’s qualification file.

Step 5 | Annual driver review

The final step re-assesses the driver based on the same standards as the 3, 6 and 9-month reviews and requires:

  • Current driver abstract review (regulated requirement)
  • Final in-cab evaluation
  • Incident, collision review
  • Telematics review
  • CVSA inspections (violations, pass/fail inspection)
  • Review with dispatch for updates on any driving incidents or feedback
  • Review with maintenance
  • Driver behaviour and mental health review

The driver, mentor, safety manager dispatch manager and general manager/president of the company should sign off on the new entrant training program. The signing off should indicate the type of commercial unit(s) the driver is authorized to operate and specify the type of equipment that the driver has and will operate.

New entrant program proves carriers are good business partners

When a carrier develops and maintains a new entrant program containing these five steps, it demonstrates due diligence to insurance underwriters and communicates that the company prioritizes safety.

Learn more about driving mentor programs

If you want to create a new entrant mentorship and training program for your company, reach out to Aviva’s Commercial Fleet Specialists. We would be happy to help you.



Trucking HR website

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