Hiring safe drivers for your tribal business

Establishing your tribal motor vehicle safety program


Most likely your tribal business has what is called in the insurance industry an “incidental fleet exposure,” in that transportation is not your main business, but a peripheral component of your organization. Of course you know hiring safe drivers for your tribal business is important– but in your quest to hire topnotch employees, their driving records may be overlooked.

After all, employers typically choose candidates based on their main job – not on what may be a small portion of their job, which is driving a vehicle. And while many employers scrutinize and test an employee on their various skills, the fact that they will be driving a company vehicle regularly or even sporadically doesn’t automatically add driver evaluation to the hiring process.

But did you know that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths, costing employers more than $40 billion per year? Poor driver attitude, horseplay and driver error also contribute to many workplace transport accidents. Hiring safe drivers for your tribal entity and providing additional instruction, training and adequate supervision, can help you significantly reduce workplace transport accidents.

Your motor vehicle safety program should include specific practices and policies on driver selection, training and supervision. Let’s start with best practices for driver selection.


Criteria for hiring safe drivers for your tribal business

Below is a brief list of criteria you’ll want to consider, with more detailed explanations following.

  • At least 21 years old
  • Acceptable accident and traffic citation history
  • Proper licensing for the type of vehicle assigned to
  • Physical health
  • Additional approved driver traits, from attitude to psychomotor performance, medical status, and mental abilities


Driving history using MVRs

Reviewing prospective employees’ current motor vehicle records (MVRs) is one of the best indicators to help determine if they are qualified to operate a motorized vehicle for your tribal enterprise. This applies not only to those operating company vehicles, but also to those operating their own vehicles for business use.

MVRs can be obtained either directly from the state or from MVR vendor companies. It’s best to order MVRs for each state in which the applicant has held an operator’s license in the previous three years. The check on MVRs should go back at least five years in total and be used as part of the overall driver selection program. Additionally, consider ordering and reviewing MVRs annually for all drivers. Drivers that have been identified as having poor driving history may be flagged for more frequent MVR reviews.

You’ll want to review their record for:

  • Vehicle crashes (define whether at-fault or not)
  • Minor incidents (minimal speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, etc.)
  • Major incidents (excessive speeding, running red lights, texting while driving, etc.)
  • Serious incidents (DUI, hit and run, reckless driving, etc.)

Studies show 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 need to define what constitutes an acceptable driving record.

For instance, you may decide that a driver with up to three minor incidents is allowable. Or a driver involved in one vehicle crash, but with no other violations, is OK.

Once acceptable driver criteria have been established, all drivers should be informed of the policy and acknowledge their agreement to adhere to it. Management should follow the criteria fairly and consistently.


Physical health of driver candidates

Consider the prospective employee’s physical fitness, such as health, eyesight, hearing and mental ability to carry out the job. Where possible, match the particular vehicle requirements, the task and situation with the driver’s fitness and capabilities. It goes without saying, but never allow anyone unfit due to drugs or alcohol to drive a vehicle.


Candidate attitudes

Select employees with the correct safe attitude towards workplace transport and who have the ability to perform the job in a responsible, competent manner. Evaluate their age, experience, driving record and maturity, as well as attitude. When viewing their MVR, you’ll want to consider non-moving violations (illegal parking, expired stickers, vehicle defects), as they may indicate a driver’s tendency to disobey company policy.


Before and during the interview

If you have a job description, what portion of the time will be spent in driving? Plan your interview accordingly. For instance, you may not need to do a road test when hiring sales representatives, but you will want to check MVRs before giving him or her keys to company vehicles, or representing your tribe while using a personal vehicle for company business.

Check that their application is completely filled out by looking for missing information. Follow up on gaps in work history. Include in the interview questions about an applicant’s driving experience based on the type of vehicles they will be driving.

Test the applicant. Depending on how much of their job involves driving, you may want to do some or all of the following: written exam, road test, skills test, pre-trip inspection test, psychological evaluation, credit and background checks, and physical exam. Verify information, check references and look at past performance as a prediction of future performance.

Taking the time to hire safe drivers for your tribal business will help you maintain lower loss ratios on your workers’ compensation, commercial auto and other liability coverages. We will examine additional components of your motor vehicle safety program including driver training and supervision in a future article.

Meanwhile, if you need further details or a free assessment on your current risks, our risk management team is happy to help. Call Brett Barnsley at 509.591.5109.

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