Driver Risk: Managing Can Be a Delicate Balance
Though it isn't yet universal, assessing the risk of assigning a company vehicle to a new hire, or leaving it with an existing employee, is a process in which more and more companies are engaging.
A veritable minefield of potential liability exists for the company when it gives a 2-ton piece of equipment to an employee to conduct his or her job. Drivers, at some regular frequency, have accidents, other parties are involved, and some of these accidents are the fault of those company drivers.
Part of the fleet manager's job, either directly or indirectly via the risk manager, is assessing this risk. The most common starting point is the motor vehicle report (MVR), which reveals past violations. But other factors, such as the driver's age or sex, can be equally useful. However, there are also laws regarding discrimination and privacy issues that could well render knowledge of those factors unusable.
Basic Risk Assessment Begins with MVR Review
The touchstone of assessing driver risk is the MVR. These reports reveal two primary risk elements:
■ Whether the driver has a valid driver's license.
■ Whether the driver has violated motor vehicle laws during the period assessed.
The process is a combination of obtaining the driver's permission to review the record, having a process in place to obtain and review the record on some regular basis, and a fleet policy that contains specific consequences for the driver when violations exist.
Obtaining an MVR should be part of the hiring process. When a candidate is offered a job that includes a company vehicle assignment, human resources should have the fleet manager obtain the record for review.
Fleet policy should also spell out what actions will be taken should the report reveal violations, i.e., a probationary period during which the new hire's MVR is reviewed monthly, or if more serious violations are listed, the requirement to use a personal vehicle for some period before assignment of a company vehicle.