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How to Implement a Fleet Safety Program--Driver Selection

If your company has vehicles - whether in the hundreds or just a single van or pickup truck - you are at risk. At stake is not just safety and liability for property damage and personal injury but your company's reputation. After all, even if you don't have an accident, people in your community might think twice about doing business with your company if they see one of your vehicles being driven unsafely. One of the keys to managing these risks is to implement a comprehensive fleet safety program. This is relatively easy to create and requires less effort than you might think.

The Components of a Fleet Safety Program
There are two basic approaches to implementing a program. One is to find a workable model and adapt it to the needs of your organization. Your insurance carrier may have a model you can use. The alternative is to build your own program from scratch.

Whichever route you go, there are some key components your program should contain:

  • Driver selection criteria
  • Company's expectations of drivers
  • Responsibilities of drivers and supervisors
  • Driver orientation and training
  • Disciplinary action for inappropriate operation of a motor vehicle

Driver Record Checks
This is a critical portion of the fleet safety program. You must check the driving record of every employee who drives or may drive a company owned or leased motor vehicle. You should conduct driver record checks:

  • When checking job application references
  • Prior to making an offer of employment
  • When a current employee transfers to a driving position
  • When a current position is revised to include driving
  • At least once a year on a regular basis to ensure the ongoing quality of your fleet

Most state motor vehicle departments will provide driver record checks to employers, for a nominal fee. You may also be able to negotiate with your fleet insurance carrier to do the checks for you as part of your premium costs.

Assessing The Results
With a formal fleet safety program, you can use drivers' records to select safe drivers to hire. Granted, a person may have a good record and still not be a stellar driver, just someone who hasn't been caught yet. But this is usually not the case.

Once you've hired employees, you can use the program to monitor their driving and identify areas for improvement and, if necessary, impose disciplinary action.

In either case, here are some suggested criteria for assessing the results of drivers' records checks:

Acceptable: In general, an acceptable candidate may have these moving violations:

  • No more than two in the past 12 months;
  • No more than three in the past 24 months; or
  • No more than four in the past 36 months.

Probationary Status: Candidates may be hired on a probationary status, with their records re-checked every four to six months, if their records show one incident in the past 12 months of:

  • Excessive speed
  • An at-fault accident, or
  • An accident involving lane, following, sign or signal violations

Unacceptable: Candidates with two or more of the above violations should not be hired into a position requiring the operation of a motor vehicle. Nor should any candidate whose record shows one or more of the following in the past 12 months:

  • Operating under the influence of alcohol/controlled substance
  • Fleeing and eluding
  • Hit and run
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Personal injury/fatal at-fault accident
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving without a license

There are other violations or circumstances that may prevent hiring or place the current employee into a probationary status.

When determining eligibility, remember to take into account extenuating circumstances. For example, a temporary suspension for failure to pay forfeiture probably would not affect a candidate's eligibility - but driving on that suspended license might.

One last note about selection criteria: Candidates under 25 years of age should be scrutinized carefully. Restrict drivers in this age group to no more than ten percent of the total number of drivers in your fleet. Drivers younger than 18 years of age should not be hired at all.