The State of Screening Compliance in the Transportation Industry in 2024

Jen Dewar
May 08, 2024
6 min read

Checkr’s State of Screening Compliance report finds companies in the transportation industry are the least confident in their background check policy compliance and fair hiring practices. Learn how these oversights can expose your company to liability and what you can do about it.

The transportation industry is highly regulated and many employers conduct background checks to help mitigate risk, ensure public safety, and maintain compliance with industry regulations. In doing so, however, many of these companies are overlooking crucial steps in their background check process. This oversight may lead to noncompliance with other federal, state, and local laws that regulate how background checks should be used to protect consumer privacy and ensure fair hiring practices.

In January, Checkr released its first-ever State of Screening Compliance report to understand organizations’ background check compliance concerns and challenges, and how practitioners are managing compliance laws and regulations. We surveyed workers involved in the background check process (not Checkr customers) across the US and in ten different industries.

In this article, we’re breaking down the survey data by industry to take a closer look at the compliance challenges transportation companies face.

Run safer background checks in 2024

Background checks serve many purposes for transportation employers

Background checks are mandated by federal and state regulations for many positions in the transportation industry, but our survey found several other reasons employers conduct them.

  1. Improve quality of hire. Background checks enable employers to make informed hiring decisions. For example, a driving record check provides important information about a candidate’s driving history, safety record, and eligibility to drive as part of their job.
  2. Maintain a safe work environment. Hiring skilled, trustworthy employees can help you maintain safety standards that safeguard employees, customers, and the general public — as well as your business asset
  3. Comply with federal and state laws. Transportation employers regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are required to conduct background checks for certain job roles. Additionally, some states have added background check requirements for drivers above and beyond the federal compliance guidelines.
  4. Mitigate business risk and protect against lawsuits. Hiring qualified employees and focusing on safety helps mitigate business risks and protect your organization from legal liability. For example, a physical health exam can assess a candidate’s hearing, vision, blood pressure, and other health factors that could put them at risk while operating a vehicle.
  5. Protect company reputation. Accidents and lawsuits can damage your company reputation, but mitigating those risks with comprehensive background checks can help protect it.
  6. Meet industry standards. Background checks help transportation companies employ candidates who are properly trained and qualified to perform the responsibilities of the job. This may include a motor vehicle record (MVR) check, employment verification, a physical health exam, and criminal history checks.

Transportation companies are less likely to have a dedicated background check team

Despite the importance of background checks, only 20% of transportation industry respondents said they have a dedicated background check team to manage this process. Another 50% of respondents said the responsibility falls to their HR and talent acquisition teams, while 30% said it’s managed by a staffing agency, their operations team, legal/compliance team, trust and safety team, or business development team. 

Given how many other responsibilities HR and talent acquisition teams manage, it’s no surprise that our survey found only 10% of organizations in the transportation industry “always” conduct training on background check compliance. Another 32% of organizations said they “often” conduct training and 58% never, rarely, or sometimes do.

Our survey found that a lack of background check expertise and knowledge leads to many concerns around compliance in the transportation industry:

  1. No one is actively managing compliance
  2. Lack of proper compliance training
  3. Inability to stay on top of regulations and changing laws
  4. Violations and lawsuits
  5. Over-screening or under-screening
  6. Bias during the decision-making process
  7. Unsure which background checks to use

Complex regulations cause additional challenges for transportation employers

There are multiple federal, state, and local laws that impact background checks in the transportation industry. 

Some regulations mandate when background checks should be used. The DOT requires background checks for certain positions, and some states have added background check requirements that go beyond the DOT guidelines.

Other regulations mandate how background checks should be used. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal law that all employers must follow to protect candidates applying for jobs. Hundreds of other laws at the state, county, and city levels—such as Ban the Box, salary history bans, and use of credit screening—may also mandate how employers can use background checks during the hiring process.

Slightly more than half of transportation survey respondents (59%) said their organization is good or very good at understanding and following the complex regulations of screening and compliance. 

But when we asked whether they’re confident their organization's documented background check policy complies with federal, state, and local screening laws and regulations, 66% of transportation respondents admitted they lack complete confidence. And nearly 9% said they don’t have a background check policy—the highest of all surveyed industries. 

Are transportation companies confident their background check policy complies with federal, state, and local regulations?

*Data from Checkr proprietary survey of workers involved in the background check process in the transportation industry.

The ever-evolving landscape of background check legislation across the US makes it increasingly difficult for employers to manage compliance. Transportation organizations’ top concerns when it comes to legislation and its impact on background screening are: 

  1. Record clearance and expungement laws (“Clean Slate” laws). Twelve states have passed Clean Slate laws, with additional states expected to introduce laws on an ongoing basis. The intent of these laws is to give candidates with criminal histories a “clean slate” by providing automatic expungement of certain crimes when they’re eligible for it.
  2. Data redaction laws. Some county courts have redacted personal data—such as full dates of birth and driver’s license numbers—from public records to protect consumer privacy. Without this information, county clerks may be required to review records manually and verify a match, slowing down background check turnaround times.
  3. Marijuana legalization and drug testing laws. A DOT background check often includes a drug screening, but medicinal and/or recreational adult use marijuana is legal in 40 states plus Washington DC. Drug screening laws vary widely: Some restrict when testing can be conducted, some restrict how employers can use drug testing to make hiring decisions, and others prohibit testing for marijuana altogether (with some exceptions).
  4. Fair chance hiring requirements (Ban the Box laws). Currently, 37 states and 190 cities and counties have enacted Ban the Box laws. Regulations vary greatly based on location and jurisdiction, but generally restrict employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history on initial job application forms.
  5. Laws with conflicting requirements. Without overarching federal policy for regulations such as Ban the Box or marijuana legalization, states are taking matters into their own hands. New state and local background screening regulations continue to add complexity to an already convoluted map of laws. Reconciling various state laws, many of which conflict, is becoming increasingly challenging as new laws regulating different types of screenings are implemented.

Compliance errors could expose transportation employers to legal liability

A written background check policy, along with documented adjudication guidelines, is crucial for a compliant screening program. Without a clear set of parameters, inconsistencies in the background check process could lead to unintentional discrimination and risk of non-compliance with federal and local laws.

For example, the FCRA requires that employers provide candidates with disclosure and authorization forms. Only 31% of survey respondents in the transportation industry strongly agree they provide the forms each time, 36% are pretty sure they provide the forms, and 33% aren’t confident they’re in compliance. 

Describe how you feel about the following statement: For every background check performed, my organization provides the necessary compliant background check disclosure and authorization (consent) forms.

*Data from Checkr proprietary survey of workers involved in the background check process in the transportation industry.

If an employer decides not to move forward with a candidate or promote an employee based on the results of a background check, the FCRA mandates they follow the adverse action process. Our survey revealed that 81% of respondents were not always following this process.

Further, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends employers follow the “Green” factors to avoid unintentional discrimination in hiring decisions. This guidance suggests employers consider the nature of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction, and the relevance of the offense to the position. But only 25% of transportation industry respondents are confident that their organization understands and follows this guidance as part of an individualized assessment. And worse, 76% are not completely confident they have policies and procedures in place to prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin during the screening process.

Do transportation companies have policies and procedures in place to prevent discrimination?

*Data from Checkr proprietary survey of workers involved in the background check process in the transportation industry.

Employers are not following basic compliance procedures and these errors could be exposing them to unnecessary legal liability. Noncompliance could create hundreds (or thousands) of potential plaintiffs in large organizations and cause serious harm to a small business with limited resources.

Investing in better background check compliance pays off

Conducting background checks when required by the DOT and state agencies isn’t enough to be in compliance. You must also follow guidance from the FCRA, EEOC, and other agencies that regulate how background checks are conducted.

Take the time to create or update your background check policy and make sure anyone involved in the background check process is trained to follow the procedures outlined. Doing so can help you avoid noncompliance violations and class action lawsuits, while also helping ensure a more fair hiring process. As it stands, only 57% of respondents in the transportation industry feel confident that their organization understands, and complies with, fair chance hiring practices

Checkr’s advanced platform helps you navigate compliance and background check processes in this highly-regulated industry so you can quickly and safely grow your team.

Get more insights in Checkr’s 2024 State of Screening Compliance.


State of Screening Compliance

A new survey report highlights seven key insights into how organizations are managing background check compliance.


The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

About the author

Jen Dewar writes about HR technology with a focus on educational content for HR, talent acquisition, and DEIB professionals. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout the candidate and employee experiences.

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