The Opportunity

“You can become one of the best drivers in the industry.” 

That’s our Certified RED program, summed up.

In 2016, Nussbaum saw a gap in the professional truck driver’s career: not much opportunity for professional development or advancement. In most other skilled trades (think plumbers, for instance), career-minded people can become certified in various specialties, earn their seniority, and receive recognition and monetary reward.

Not always so in trucking, we realized. And that led us to launch Certified RED – a voluntary continuing education and certification program for the professional driver.

The Incentive

To date, nearly 25% of our drivers have completed their certification. Another 42% are in progress. And that begs the question – why have so many chosen to participate?

For some, it’s the monetary benefits. Certified RED drivers receive a 2-cent per mile bump to their base rate and a half-cent increase for each additional 100,000 incident-free miles. (Once a driver reaches 1 million miles – Level 10 – they’re earning an extra 7 cents per mile). Others are energized by the learning – they want to understand the whys. They’re excited to advance professionally and hone their abilities.

Certified RED drivers are publicly recognized and awarded an exclusive RED hat, a truck decal, and a sterling silver ring. Each additional level (100,000 miles) means another diamond added to the ring.

The Process

To become certified, drivers must complete 4 “rounds” over 12 months. The schedule looks something like this:

RoundHands-On SessionsPhone-Based Sessions
Round 1Skills ChallengeSmartDrive overview, achieving a 7.0 habits rating, being an ambassador.
Round 2Vehicle InspectionSmartDrive in-depth, skills discussion, effective inspections.
Round 3Winter DrivingReaching a 9.0 habits rating, trip planning, advanced logging concepts.
Round 4Backing & ManeuveringAccident reporting, CSA, profitability insights with our CFO.

Certified RED is meant to go beyond just “practice.” In fact, some drivers can already expertly handle the hands-on sessions. But we want drivers to understand the why behind the method – for example, how building good habits feeds into their personal profitability and Nussbaum’s success. We also emphasize efficiency – continuing to get better at the things you already know how to do. The ultimate goal is to drive consistent results at an ever-increasing level of quality. That’s why Certified RED drivers perform at an elite level – and stand out among other drivers in the industry.

To graduate, Certified RED drivers must prove their abilities by meeting performance metrics. So, the next time you see a Nussbaum driver with a Certified RED hat picking up or unloading at your facility, you know that:

  • They achieved 12+ months of zero significant crashes, zero moving citations, and no more than one maintenance incident
  • They consistently received a 7/10 (or higher) habits rating and SmartDrive rating
  • They had no more than one late delivery for an entire year

With a proven safety record and the right tools for success, Certified RED drivers stick with us. Turnover among Certified RED drivers in 2022 is a mere 18%, compared to our fleet average of 44% and the industry’s average of 80-100%. The Certified RED program is one of the reasons our drivers deliver consistent, high-quality service: they know our customers and processes and are committed to maximizing their potential.

Or, as we would say, they’re the best drivers in the industry.