My name isn’t mud

| December 12, 2008

Kent Ferguson, longtime manager of the DAC employment history file.

Your good name in trucking is only as good as your work history. In the world of the leased owner-operator, an important part of this history is compiled by USIS, creator and manager of DAC employment history files, better known to truckers as DAC reports.

If you’re trying to lease to any carrier, your violation and employment history will be pertinent. If that carrier is one of the 2,600 that are parties to DAC Services, it’ll have much more to go on than your word.

But being “blacklisted” by DAC isn’t so much a matter of being on any one list. It’s more often a result of the compilation of several sources of information – some of them outside the scope of the basic DAC report, which is based on information provided by carriers.

Other relevant sources of information might include independents’ SafeStat scores and every driver’s state-issued Motor Vehicle Record, which will include a lifetime’s worth of moving (and some non-moving) violations, in automobiles and commercial vehicles alike.

And while a DAC report or MVR might not be the deciding factor for a carrier, both play a significant role in providing an introduction beyond your résumé, says Vickie Hymer, recruiting manager for Freymiller Inc. of Oklahoma City. Freymiller uses the DAC report as a tool, “and then you have to go on with your investigation,” Hymer says. “Most of the time, records are pretty much correct. That’s what I find. I’ve had very few where drivers have had to correct things from the past.”

All the same, managing what’s in your DAC and other reports is important, and the process begins the day you get behind the wheel. Preventive measures are your first steps toward a pristine record.

In 24 years of driving, eight in Canada and the most recent 16 in the U.S., owner-operator Richard Henderson has been stopped by law enforcement only six times. “All in the U.S.,” says the Waynesville, N.C., resident leased to North American Van Lines, “for a total of four citations, all in California.” Fortunately, they were minor equipment violations that had no impact on his standing with his carrier or his MVR.

“One was for a cracked frame on a trailer I picked up,” he says. Another was an overweight violation that he was allowed to correct on the spot by shifting the load. The others were a cracked windshield and a bridge-length violation.

“People would have less trouble with DOT and with DAC – with anybody, really – if they kept their vehicles clean, their dash clutter free, and they dressed properly,” Henderson says. “When you’re approaching the scales, for instance, you know they’ve got binoculars. If your hair’s down your back, and you’re wearing a T-shirt that says ‘Death to the Pigs,’ they’re going to inspect you.”

“Slow down,” says owner-operator Everett Bass of Taylorville, Ill., who has been leased to Dallas & Mavis, now part of Greatwide, for more than a decade. “I’ve gotten two tickets my whole life. I’ve just been lucky, I guess, or more cautious than some people. Be a little considerate with the other person out there.”

Always try to leave an employer or lessor on good terms, even if the carrier is clearly not worth working for, says Victor Zimmerman, president of DACfix, an advocacy service for commercial drivers with erroneous information on their records. Give two weeks’ written notice, he says, adding that most banks will notarize such a letter for free. Timely notice can leave a good impression, preventing carriers from ever reporting negatively to DAC.

Not switching carriers continuously also helps your DAC report. Henderson has spent almost his entire career with North American, a model of consistency that’s earned him plenty of praise from his carrier.

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