10 questions to include in your carrier vetting process

A man holds a clipboard in front of the truck as he conducts the carrier vetting process.

In a world rife with strategic theft, noncompliance, and other risks, vetting carriers is an essential step for shippers. However, many companies lack the tools they need to ensure that their carriers and drivers fit their needs. Worse, these companies are usually unable to identify false carriers/drivers and prevent theft by fraud. Fortunately, a simple carrier vetting process can help companies streamline their shipments and protect their cargo.  

Here’s an overview of what a good carrier vetting process should look like and why it matters. Read until the end for a free guide with 10 questions you should ask your carriers (and bonus questions for drivers). 

What is a carrier vetting process? 

The carrier vetting process is essential for validating and verifying carriers. More specifically, this process helps a shipper better understand a potential carrier’s reliability, efficiency, and suitability.  

An effective carrier vetting process might involve checking the carrier’s safety records or the condition of their equipment. It could also include seeking out references from the carrier’s current clients. Sometimes, it will involve a thorough assessment of the carrier’s licenses and registration as well.  

Importantly, a vetting process is incomplete if it does not involve vetting the carrier’s drivers. 

A “driver candidate vetting process” can help you tell whether the driver will follow your standards of care. It can also enable you to better understand whether a person is who they say they are. In this way, the driver vetting process helps deter bad actors who might impersonate a driver and try to steal your cargo.  

Trust is key in supply chains, and if you have reason to doubt a driver’s identity, you should not give them your shipment. Similarly, if the driver seems unreliable or is otherwise not a good fit, other qualified candidates could drive your load instead. 

It’s important to note that the driver vetting process requires constant vigilance and vetting. For example, you might have a history with a carrier but not recognize a new driver. Although these carriers will likely do their own employee vetting as part of their hiring process, it doesn’t hurt to ask some questions of your own. In fact, it can make all the difference in keeping your shipments safe. 

Why vetting your drivers and carriers matters 

Often, a logistics service provider (LSP) or shipper will hire out a carrier to transport their cargo. Other times, a freight broker will find your carrier for you. In both cases, it’s important that you make your needs clear and bring up any concerns quickly so that they can be adequately vetted. 

A carrier must adhere to several regulations, including the Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (MCSA) Federal Motor Carrier Safety standards. These standards cover everything from driver qualifications to vehicle maintenance. By vetting your carrier/driver, you ensure they’re meeting these standards, which helps keep your cargo protected. 

Vetting is also important in order to ensure that the carrier/driver fits your specific needs. For example, a carrier must have the right tools and assets to ship your cargo, such as a properly sized trailer. Additionally, they should invest in security to keep your cargo safe. To that end, vetting can help you determine whether a carrier provides important features such as visibility and cargo insurance coverage. 

How to optimize your carrier and driver vetting process 

Inexperienced, dishonest, and irresponsible carriers are identifiable by several red flags. This is why due diligence can make all the difference in protecting your cargo from theft. Of course, knowing whether a carrier has insurance or asking about their safety rating is only the beginning. At the same time, you can’t perform background checks on every driver who pulls up to your warehouse.  

Fortunately, a few simple questions can help guide a realistic, effective carrier and driver vetting process. You can find our guide with those questions at the bottom of this page. These aren’t the only questions worth asking, and it’s important to do your research. However, they form a good foundation for understanding your carrier/driver’s capabilities, experience, and trustworthiness. 

Click the button below for 10+ questions you should ask as part of your carrier and driver vetting process. 

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