Your wife’s cousin Al works cheap and is good with customers, but he refuses to use a hands free headset when he talks on his cell phone while driving….. John is only 20 years old but is mature for his age and you suspect he will catch on quick….. Mary is incredibly motivated so she drives excessively fast to cover 2X the territory others might. As an employer, you have many decisions to make, including who you hire to drive your company owned vehicles, but we encourage you to stop for a moment and recognize that every driver has their flaws. Can these flaws lead to your insurance premiums becoming inflated? Or worse, your operation becoming uninsurable altogether?
Several problems can appear if you don’t have a company fleet safety program in place. Accidents can occur causing the insurance to non-renew, or rates to go up dramatically. A service vehicle layed up in the shop while the vehicle is being repaired or the claim investigated causes a shortage of required vehicles to run the business. The employee is injured, off work and your short staffed. The employee injury is also a workers’ compensation claim. This will most likely result in the workers’ compensation premium increasing at the renewal. The company service schedule is disrupted. The company reputation might be tarnished.
These are some of the reasons why it’s necessary to have a company fleet safety program in place. Some of the questions on most auto insurance applications are about the driver hiring process, the driver training program, the safety program and the drug and alcohol testing programs that are in place. There should be a written manual and a safety coordinator. This is usually the owner for most mid size and smaller companies. This person, with the help of their insurance agent, can create the manual. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is a good reference for putting the manual together. A few agencies have access to Zywave services that have an abundant library of materials for this. It’s important that the company establishes a driver selection program to hire the best, most qualified drivers.
Make a Plan
Before the hiring process begins, realistic driver qualifications should be made. Most insurance companies want drivers to be a minimum age and have experience. This usually ranges from 21-25 age and 2-3 years experience minimums. The job description includes experience and skill level. The mental and physical requirements such as vision, hearing and substance abuse should be outlined. The position requirements such as; education, prior training, driving experience and skill level need to be known. For positions where driving is the majority of the employee’s hours it is not uncommon to ask the applicant to come into the interview with a current motor vehicle report (MVR). This can be obtained at the local DMV. Those not wanting to do this may not be that interested in the position or have an adverse driving record. The safety coordinator should have a folder with all of the driver’s MVRs and license copies.
Establish what violations are not acceptable by the insurance company and by your company.
When soliciting a position, clarify the minimum requirements. The employment app should ask for all of the needed information including references and past experience. During the face to face interview, ask about the details that appear on the license and if they’re accident related and accident details. Ask if they have ever worked for an employer with a safety award program. Some companies have implemented monthly $25 gift card driver safety rewards have cut down incidents. Obtain from the applicant written approval to reference check and then do so. The FMCSA believes there is a direct correlation between “job hoppers” and accidents, which is another reason to have a strong hiring program in place.
While most drivers are conscientious and safe, there are “high risk” drivers. Crash risk can be reduced by recognizing the risk factors associated with the high risk drivers. The FMCSA reported a survey that indicated 10 percent of the drivers were associated with MORE than 50 percent of the crash incidents. The four biggest risk factors are: inexperience, impatience, inattentive driving and driver aggression.
After hiring the employee they should be familiarized with the vehicle and equipment, route and duties. The first day the employee should be the passenger and be learning routes, parking locations and time management issues.
The first step in accident prevention is creating and implementing a company fleet safety program.
There should be safety meetings regularly scheduled. A meeting should be devoted to one subject, as the literature shows that safety meetings are more effective when one topic is covered at length as opposed to top level discussions about many topics. Choose the a la carte menu not the buffet when having safety meetings. For example, spend 20 minutes discussing distracted driving. Employees should be made aware of the company disciplinary action for cell phone use while driving. Seat belts should be a continual reminder. A good program will include consequences for drivers with MVR activity or incidents.
Jim McFarlane, after earning a Master’s Degree in business, was on the claims side of the insurance industry as a regional property claims analyst, trainer and claims auditor for 7 years. Jim has been helping his clients from various industries put together coverage rich and competitive insurance programs. Jim has a specialty in auto related risks.
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