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Loss Control Insights for Petroleum Marketers

Your Guide to Hiring Safe Drivers

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Your business depends on your drivers and the decisions they make on the road. In addition to keeping everyone on the road safe, who you hire is extremely important to your bottom line. Safe drivers can benefit your business in several ways:

  • Protects your bottom line. According to the OSHA, the average crash costs a company $16,500. But costs can reach around $74,000 if an injury occurs and exceed $500,000 if a fatality occurs. Safe drivers can help lower the possibility of loss due to accidents.
  • Lowers liability in case of loss. Effective screening, hiring, training and monitoring can help reduce liability.
  • Boosts your reputation. Every employee is a reflection of your brand, so who you put behind the wheel matters. Roadway incidents—from minor road rage to major collisions—can leave other drivers with negative feelings toward your company, while safe drivers can leave a positive impression.

So how do you make sure you’re hiring the right people for the job? If you don’t already have one, start by creating a comprehensive fleet safety program that includes consistent standards for both experienced and potential employees. Your driver criteria should include who is eligible to drive a company vehicle, how to handle accidents and the training required for company drivers. Keep reading for some best practices to keep in mind when creating or reviewing your safety program.

Check Each Driver’s History

A driver’s past behavior is a strong indicator of how they will behave in the future. Be sure to evaluate each candidate’s motor vehicle record (MVR) during the hiring process. The driver criteria in your fleet safety program should clearly list which offenses are cause for disqualifying an applicant. For instance, beware if:

  • The driver’s license is currently suspended or revoked
  • The driver does not have at least one year of verifiable driving experience (it’s preferable to have at least two years’ experience with the kind of vehicle they will be operating)
  • In the past three years, the driver has had more than two at-fault accidents, three moving violations or two moving violations plus one at-fault accident

Candidates with any of the following violations on their MVR within the last five years should be disqualified from the hiring process:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Fleeing/eluding police or resisting arrest
  • Hit and run/leaving the scene of an accident
  • Open container violations
  • Operating vehicles with a suspended/revoked license
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Reckless driving
  • Refusing a field sobriety test
  • Speeding more than 15 mph over limit
  • Using a vehicle to commit a felony
  • Vehicular manslaughter

If an existing driver incurs a violation during their employment that prevents them from meeting your driving history standards, they should be disqualified from driving company vehicles until they once again meet your standards. When disqualified drivers regain their eligible status, they should complete a driver improvement class before being placed on your active driver list.

Set Expectations From the Start

Every new hire should read your fleet safety program and have a chance to ask questions. Start by covering your basic expectations, such as always wearing a seat belt, obeying traffic laws and avoiding any kind of distracted driving. It’s also a good idea to provide initial and ongoing training to all drivers on topics such as defensive driving, driver fatigue and distracted driving. For tank truck drivers, include information on preventing rollovers. Drivers subject to DOT regulations should be informed of additional rules they need to follow.

For new drivers, or existing drivers who will be driving a different type of vehicle for the first time, offer ride-alongs with an experienced, safe company driver. After these demonstrations, let them practice operating the vehicle while an experienced driver observes and provides feedback.

Make a List

Keeping track of your qualified drivers with a physical list will make it easier to annually check the records of all your drivers. You may also want to consider subscribing to a driver monitoring service so you are up-to-date on driver eligibility at all times. Your list should note when an employee uses a personal vehicle for company businesses and include the following information:

  • Driver name
  • Driver license number
  • Driver license type(s)
  • Endorsements
  • Date of hire
  • Date of last MVR check
  • Date of driver trainings

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