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Hiring safe drivers

Chances are that driving and transportation are not the main focus of your organization. Most likely driving is a peripheral function – something you need to do to accomplish the goals of your business.

Because of that, choosing the right person to drive on behalf of your organization should be a fundamental element in managing your driving exposures. You need to be conscious of any driving your employees need to do - even if it's only occasional driving, and include a driver evaluation in your hiring process. Drivers can be a significant loss exposure to your organization; they shouldn't be overlooked. Motor vehicle accidents can affect your business through lost productivity, medical and workers compensation costs, liability expense, property damage, and harm to your reputation. According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) they are the leading cause of work-related fatalities.

More than likely, you have personally experienced distracted drivers or others making driving errors – many of which can result in motor vehicle accidents – accidents you undoubtedly do not want your organization to experience. You can greatly lessen this exposure and workplace transportation accidents by utilizing hiring criteria for anyone that will drive for your organization.

Your driver safety program should include specific procedures and rules on driver selection.

Define your hiring criteria for anyone driving

A first step in hiring safe drivers is to develop consistent written criteria that will be used to review all potential driving candidates to determine if they are acceptable drivers. Consider:

  • Hiring only experienced drivers. Two or more years of experience should be a minimum; consider five or more years of driving experience as being preferred. Hiring more mature drivers may provide your organization with a more mature (and experienced) driver and lessen your driving exposures.
  • An acceptable citation history
  • Ability to understand and follow traffic rules
  • Verifying that the driver’s license is valid (for the state of residence)
  • Physical health (capable of operating a vehicle safely with no impairments)

Use their MVR to review driving history

Obtain and review the motor vehicle record (MVR) of driver candidates to determine if they are qualified to operate a motor vehicle on behalf of your organization. You should do this for individuals that will be driving your vehicles along with any individuals that would occasionally drive their own vehicles on company business.

You can get MVRs from either a MVR vendor or directly from the state. Identify where your driver candidate has held a driver’s license during the past three years and obtain an MVR from each of those states. It’s also a best practice to obtain an MVR on an annual basis for each of your drivers. You may want to order MVRs more frequently for any of your drivers that do not have a good driving history to identify any recent activity.

When you review your candidates’ MVR look for:
  • Number of minor incidents - failure to stop at a stop sign, minor speeding, etc.
  • Any major incidents texting while driving, ignoring traffic signs, extreme speeding (20+ miles over speed limit), etc.
  • Any vehicle accidents - were they at fault, did they contribute to the accident or was it someone else’s fault?
  • Any serious incidents - reckless driving, DUI (Driving Under the Influence – of drugs or alcohol), hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident, etc.

Reviewing MVRs is an important part of hiring safe drivers because studies have shown a direct correlation between past driving performance and future vehicle crash involvement. Drivers who have experienced moving violations and crashes are more likely to be involved in future vehicle crashes. For this reason, you should work with your insurance company to define what constitutes an acceptable driving record.

For example, you both may decide a driver is acceptable if they have had: 

  • Three or fewer minor incidents and no other violations of any type OR
  • One vehicle crash and no other violations of any type OR
  • One major incident plus one minor incident and no other violations of any type

However, if the driver has any serious violations, you both may decide their record is unacceptable.

After you have developed your criteria for an acceptable driver, you should advise all drivers of your policy and have them sign an acknowledgement that they will follow your driving policies and procedures. As part of your procedures for hiring safe drivers, you should follow these criteria fairly and consistently.

You may also want to look at non-moving violations (illegal parking, expired registration and inspection stickers, vehicle defects and poor vehicle maintenance) when reviewing MVRs as they may indicate a driver's tendency to disobey company policy.

Do applicants have any limiting physical conditions?

In reviewing the applicant's driver's license, take note of any driving restrictions that may impact their ability to drive safely. Examples might include corrective lenses or no nighttime driving. Inquire if any prescription drugs being used could impair their driving ability and assure that all driver candidates understand that driving is never allowed if they are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Additional factors

Be certain to check the candidate’s application for any missing information. Follow up on gaps in work history. Include interview questions about your applicant’s driving experience based on the type of vehicles they will be driving.

You may also want to test the candidate. Depending on how much and the kind of driving that will be required you may also want them to take a written test, a road test, a skills test, demonstrate a pre-trip inspection, and do credit and background checks. You may also want to confirm application information, check references provided and look at past performance as a prediction of future performance.

Using defined criteria for hiring safe drivers will help you lower costs and significantly reduce workplace driving exposures.