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Driver qualification: Lowering Driver Requirements Puts Your Business At Risk!
Posted by DSD Insurance an Acrisure Agency Partner on
The current labor shortage has many organizations thinking about lowering their experience and qualification standards for many hard-to-fill positions.
Due to the potential for severe worker injury and death from an auto accident, as well as the significant liability exposure, strong driver qualifications should remain in place.
This applies to full-time drivers as well as those who drive as part of their job duties. In fact, due to the current auto risk environment organizations should be strengthening their fleet safety program at this time.
On The Job Fatalities Auto accidentsare the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities in the U.S. They make up approximately 22% of all worker deaths.Auto accident fatalities have risen 24% in the last two years! Risky behaviors –– speeding, distracted driving, alcohol impairment, and not wearing a seat belt are factors leading to this increase.
Lawsuits from accidents have also risen considerably. Injured parties are more likely to retain an attorney for even minor crashes. Plaintiffs attorneys are expecting much more for their damages; $1 million is not much in many attorneys’ minds these days. Nuclear verdicts, awards in excess of $20 million, have also risen sharply over the last 10 years. That’s not a trend you want to participate in!
Following an accident, vehicle downtime has been increasing due to difficulty in getting parts as well as repair facilities having a shortage of qualified staff. Businesses need to have solid driver safety programs in place to address this deteriorated environment.
Who you put behind the wheel matters
• The most extensive studies on accident causation found careless drivers are the primary causal factor in 94% of accidents for vehicles under 10,000 GVWRand 87% for vehicles greater than 10,000 GVWR.
• Experienced drivershave the benefit of encountering many driving situations over the years that have improved their driving skills and knowledge. They are more likely to drive defensively in situations that have resulted in negative consequences in the past, such as an accident or near miss. Best practice is for drivers to have a minimum of five years of general driving experience, two of which involve driving the type of vehicle to which they will be assigned.
• There is a strong correlation between past violations and future accidents. Drivers with poor motor vehicle records (MVRs) are more likely to have future accidents.
• An accident caused by a driver with inadequate driving experience, a poor MVR, or substance abuse problems can result in allegations of “negligent hiring and entrustment”. This increases your business’ liability and often leads to punitive damages if you’re involved in a lawsuit.
Some states do not allow punitive damages to be covered by insurance — so that could become 100% your responsibility to cover.
Keys to properly qualifying your drivers
It’s not difficult to identify drivers who may engage in driving behaviors that can cause you serious headaches.
Here are a few, key guidelines to consider –– and practice –– to reduce your risk and protect your bottom line:
• Establish minimum driver qualifications: proper license, relevant experience, driving record, knowledge and skills.
• If you’re DOT regulated or not, satisfy DOT qualifications with medical examinations, drug testing, etc.
• Obtain an MVR to ensure their driving record is acceptable. Obtain an MVR at least annually thereafter. If you need help with this, DSD Insurance can help you get this information and manage your risk.
• Conduct prior employer background checks to validate driving experience. “Trust but verify”
• Conduct a road test to ensure each of your drivers utilize safe driving practices and have not developed poor (i.e. “risky”) driving habits.
• Conduct pre-employment drug and alcohol testing to identify substance abuse problems before they become problems for you and your business.