Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Exciting Advances in Driver Risk Assessment Are Now Available

November 2016, by Wayne Smolda

Many moons ago — make that about 20 years ago — getting fleets to buy into annual motor vehicle record (MVR) checks was sometimes a hard sell. After all, employers routinely checked new drivers’ MVRs before hiring them, and saw little value in spending money every year to repeat it. Today, though, it’s standard procedure for nearly every large fleet.

Eureka Moment

The light bulb went on when fleets realized that combining accident and MVR history was useful in monitoring driver behavior, assessing their risk of an accident, and determining when and which drivers needed remedial safety training, and that doing these things actually helped prevent accidents. They also realized that periodic MVR checks helped to reduce their liability against negligent entrustment when a driver was involved in a serious collision.


The proof came in fleet safety and risk management applications, like CEI’s DriverCare, which allows employers to monitor and remediate poor driving behavior in their  behind-the-wheel workplace. Among our DriverCare customers, we’ve seen accident rates reduced in the long term by as much as 35%.

But relying on accident reports and annual motor vehicle violation convictions alone still leaves gaps in driver risk profiles. For one thing, there remains all the time since the last accident, and 365 days during which time the driver could rack up more points on his or her MVR without the fleet knowing about it. So some employers have adopted semi-annual MVR checks and others whenever the driver had a collision. Better, but that still leaves gaps. 

Expanding the Safety Toolbox

Four tools have recently emerged to virtually eliminate any information gap and to raise fleet driver risk assessment to an entirely new level: traffic camera violations linking, continuous MVR monitoring, telematics, and predictive analytics. Each of these affords more timely opportunities to take remedial action with drivers to improve their driving attitudes and behavior.

Traffic camera violations linking. Traffic camera violations aren’t posted in MVRs, so, for a long time, there was no way for a fleet that leased its vehicles to tell which driver committed a traffic camera violation. At the request of many of our customers, CEI solved that problem and is able to enter those violations into the profile of the driver who committed them, filling a void that probably left many thousands of high-risk drivers unidentified.

Continuous MVR monitoring. Now it’s possible to pull fleet drivers’ MVR checks on an automated monthly (or quarterly) basis. The service checks every state’s MVR database against a fleet’s driver roster and reports when a new violation conviction has been entered in the record. This approach reduces the fleet’s information blackout to as little as 30 days.

Telematics. It’s obvious that drivers exhibit risky behavior — such as speeding or slamming on the brakes — that doesn’t result in a ticket or accident; what they cause, though, are near-misses that don’t get recorded anywhere. Today’s telematics systems capture that data, but the trick is to make it easily actionable. CEI’s solution integrates that information captured by a telematics provider into the employer’s primary safety platform, where it is prominently displayed in each driver’s record of behavior and where fleet and safety managers can respond.

Predictive analytics. The science of predictive analytics mines enterprise data to predict future events, and is being used in a wide variety of business disciplines. After five years of research and testing, CEI has developed a statistical algorithm we call our Predictive Model that can be applied to fleet safety. Results with several of our customer fleets have proven that it accurately predicts both the fleet’s future accident rate and each driver’s statistical changes of being involved in a collision over the next 12 months. One of its surprising results is that it has identified scores of drivers who were ranked as “low risk” under their fleet’s safety policy, but who are, in fact, at high risk for an accident, pointing the way to more effective remedial action and accident prevention.  

Employer attitudes toward fleet accidents have changed tremendously over the past 20 years. Once regarded as the cost of doing business, today, fleet managers recognize that it is possible to prevent accidents, better protect the lives and safety of their drivers, and save millions of dollars a year in the direct and hidden costs of collisions. These new advances in driver risk assessment are opening the door to even greater savings and just-in-time remediation than were ever before imagined.

The CEI Group is the exclusive sponsor of the annual Fleet Executive of the Year award, presented by Fleet Financials.

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