Non-Regulated Fleet Vehicles: Mitigate the Risk of Unsafe Driving

Kathy Close, Editor - Transport Safety

May 9, 2022

 Utility truck

Drivers who operate company vehicles that are not subject to federal or state safety regulations may fly under the radar since there is no requirement to track the employee’s safety record.

Most insurance companies require a motor vehicle record (MVR) to determine whether a driver will be covered under the employer’s policy. But is this enough to counter claims of negligence in the event of a serious accident involving these drivers?


Set A Bar

Many employers create safety programs for their unregulated drivers to emphasize a commitment to their corporate safety culture. Drivers should be introduced to the program at time of hire and participate in it through the course of their employment. Best practices often include:

  • Policies and procedures that set company standards and help identify drivers who pose a safety risk. Policies and procedures often include progressive discipline and offer coaching as the first step for lesser offenses.
  • New hire and refresher training to instill company standards and communicate expectations placed on employees in the policies and procedures. Drivers are often trained on cell phone use, defensive driving, and the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Periodic MVRs to identify patterns of unsafe driving in both company and personal vehicles. MVRs are often scored by the employer, which ties back to company policies that outline what requires corrective action.
  • Continuous MVR monitoring services that allow the employer to access recent events rather than learn of a traffic conviction or loss of driving privileges well after the fact.
  • Non-DOT drug and alcohol testing, as permitted under state and federal employment law, to identify drivers who are under the influence. Impaired driving puts the driver, co-workers, and public at risk.


Effective Policies

A safety program is only effective if company standards are consistently upheld. Those in management need to know the bar that has been set and ensure the corporate rules are not bent.

In addition, supervisors and management should review and revise policies and procedures periodically. They need to examine them for effectiveness using metrics (reduction in accidents and/or driver citations, reduced insurance premium).

During the review of the policies and procedures, an employer may find it needs to add new training topics or change the progression of corrective actions.


Reward Good Behavior

Most safety programs address negative behavior. But it may prove beneficial to use the same tools used to identify risky behavior to spot those drivers with an exemplary driving record. For instance, it may offer an opportunity to celebrate drivers with accident-free miles.


Key to Remember

Those operating fleet vehicles have the potential to harm a company’s reputation with its customers, job seekers, and others. Negative behavior also can lead claims of negligent hiring and negligent entrustment resulting in a nuclear verdict against the company. Addressing risky driving behavior early with tools and best practices may counter these negative impacts.