By Shannon McNamara
According to conventional wisdom, pulling a driver’s motor vehicle record (MVR) once a year is enough to identify risky drivers. In fact, it gives risky drivers a long grace period before discovery and unnecessarily raises the fleet’s risk profile and potential for a costly liability claim.
Among the most common objections to implementing a continuous motor vehicle record (MVR) program is that a once-a-year MVR pull is “good enough” to identify risky drivers.
This objection, which reflects conventional wisdom about MVRs, is true enough for most drivers. In fact, the vast majority of drivers will not have a violation necessitating the pulling of an MVR and intervention by fleet personnel or management. However, even the best driver can engage in risky behavior resulting in a violation — raising the fleet’s risk profile, the potential for a serious crash, and a liability lawsuit.
And for those reasons alone companies should implement a continuous MVR program.
ELIMINATING THE RISK ‘GRACE PERIOD’
Once-a-year MVR pulls are a gift to risky drivers, giving them a grace period of almost a year before a violation is discovered — putting the company at risk for a liability lawsuit if this behavior escalates into a serious injury or fatality accident.
In fact, fleets that don’t implement a continuous MVR program could face increased liability, because MVRs weren’t pulled enough. Not knowing that a driver was risky is not a protection or defense for fleet or company leadership. Not knowing what violations are on a driver’s license may be deemed negligent entrustment, which is the act of entrusting a vehicle to a driver who the owner knows could use the vehicle to cause harm to others based on previous behavior.
Fleets and their companies have an obligation to monitor their drivers’ behavior and take immediate, corrective action for any violation that a driver accrues.
‘SAFE ENOUGH’ ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
A corollary argument to the once-a-year “good enough” objection is that a continuous MVR program isn’t worth it because the fleet’s drivers are already “safe enough.”
There has never been a “safe enough” fleet. Safety isn’t a one-and-done proposition. It requires ongoing training and education, and monitoring to identify risky drivers. It can’t be stressed enough — even the consistently safest driver in the fleet could receive a violation for a risky driving behavior, which could escalate into a serious injury or fatality crash for which the company would be liable.
Continuous MVR monitoring not only can help fleets identify this potential risk, but correct it before it escalates into a serious crash. Getting this information sooner and on a more frequent basis enables the ﬂeet manager to take immediate action with the driver, from remedial driver training up to dismissal for serious offenses.
Minimizing the effects of or removing risky drivers from a ﬂeet is the highest value a ﬂeet can gain from its safety program, not only because it protects lives but goes directly to protecting a company’s bottom line. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when a driver has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the average cost to the driver’s employer is $76,000. Add in liability costs, and that figure could increase exponentially.
IMPROVING COMPANY REPUTATION
While protecting lives — both employees and other drivers on the road — is paramount for a continuous MVR program, there are other benefits companies gain far beyond protecting the driver, the public, and its bottom line.
Companies that implement a continuous MVR monitoring service will likely find that it also protects its reputation in the event of a liability case. A program that can be demonstrated as successfully identifying risky drivers, coupled with a solid safety program that has uniform enforcement, will illustrate that the company’s ﬂeet drivers are not only safe, but that the entire ﬂeet operation is run in a safe manner.
For fleets committed to improving their risk profiles and that want to do more than what’s “good enough,” a continuous MVR program should be the cornerstone of a larger proactive fleet safety program designed to identify and correct risky behavior. The benefits outweigh all of the objections.
CORPORATE INERTIA: OVERCOMING HURDLES TO CONTINUOUS MVR MONITORING
To learn more about how to overcome the “good enough” and “safe enough” objections and other hurdles you may face as you work to implement a continuous MVR program