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July 18, 2022

How to Hire Safe Drivers - Even If They Aren't Behind the Wheel Full Time

The Driver Scenario

The Office Manager at ABC Technology Company asks an Assistant to pick up lunch for the department’s twice-a-week meetings. The Marketing Director sends their Social Media Strategist to grab coffee before every weekly brainstorming session. The company hasn’t screened the Assistant’s or the Strategist’s driving records. After all, their personal insurance will cover any accidents. Right? The company isn’t at risk. Right?

Wrong.

Almost everyone understands that trucking companies, transport operations, and other organizations with fleets should require a thorough driver screening policy. However, other employed drivers may be opening your company up to risk.

These drivers fall into a group called “hired/non-owned drivers”.

Who Are Hired/Non-Owned Drivers?

This group of drivers probably has “driver” nowhere near their titles. They are the employees who, like the scenario above, run errands, drive to meet clients, visit job sites, or go see patients. Driving during work may be a tiny portion of their job duties, unlike truck or delivery drivers.

Hired/non-owned drivers are common in organizations across all types of industries. A whopping 30-40 million employees use their own vehicles to drive for work-related activities.

The confusion stemming from hired/non-owned drivers is that they typically use their own vehicles during these tasks. The assumption is that, since they’re using their own vehicles, their personal insurance covers them if they’re in an accident.

This assumption is incorrect.

How can Hired/Non-Owned Drivers Put Your Company at Risk?

The company can be liable for the costs above what their insurance covers if an employee is in an accident while performing a work function.

Hired/non-owned drivers may be riskier than full-time drivers for a couple of reasons. First, full-time drivers make their living by being able to legally operate a vehicle. They protect their licenses and are careful to avoid reckless and negligent driving. Second, companies are more likely to put full-time drivers through a rigorous screening process before putting them on the road. Neither of these points apply to employees who drive their own vehicles for company business every now and then.

This group of drivers pose several risks to companies:

  • Driving with an expired license. An NHTSA study found that 19% of all driving fatalities in the United States involved drivers with invalid licenses. With full-time drivers, companies check their license before hiring them, and most monitor when their drivers’ licenses are up for renewal. Unmonitored drivers may let their licenses lapse, opening the company up to enormous risk.  
  • Negligent or reckless driving. According to European Commission of Mobility and Transport, in the United States, Australia, and the EU, work-related motor vehicle crashes are estimated to contribute to between 25-33% of all work-related deaths. Full time drivers know their job depends on driving carefully and staying out of accidents. Hired/non-owned drivers are more likely to speed and drive negligently, especially if that’s how they drive on their personal time. Your company could get sued for millions if they cause a fatal car crash. 
  • Bad behavior = damage to the company’s reputation. In addition to lawsuits and costly claims, a company’s brand can suffer from driver error. The bad press from just one accident that causes injury or death because of a negligent or non-licensed driver could be too much for a business to come back from.

Employees who drive their own vehicles for work functions, no matter how rarely, are one of the biggest risks companies face. That’s why companies should screen them thoroughly.

What Should You Do to Screen Every-Now-and-Then Drivers?

Organizations with hired/non-owned drivers should protect themselves by proactively initiating a way to handle this employee group. Here are 3 things companies should do:

  1. Add the process for handling hired/non owned drivers to your background screening policy. Advise every employee of the requirements for driving for work, even if it’s to run an errand or pick up lunch. Include the minimum amount of insurance coverage required. Send out the document and get their signature as proof if there’s a future issue.

  2. Screen and monitor drivers who operate vehicles in any capacity of their work. Screen every employee who may operate a vehicle for work for any reason. The cost of a motor vehicle search is small compared to costly litigation that an accident would cause. In addition, enroll every driver in a monitoring program to ensure their license stays up-to-date and to receive notifications of any serious driving offenses.

  3. Educate employees on the importance of safe driving. Encourage driver safety whether they’re driving for work or personal reasons. Consistently reiterate the risk of negligent, distracted, or under the influence driving poses to the driver and the company. Safe driving should be standard operating procedure.

The first step in reducing the risk these drivers pose to your company is being aware of it Put procedures in place, screen these drivers as you do full-time drivers, and educate them on the expectations of safe driving. A detailed plan can increase your confidence you won’t end up dealing with costly litigation and bad press from future driver-related accidents.

Jared Alexander

Jared is a Senior National Account Executive at Data Facts.

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