Close Gaps in Fleet Safety to Avoid Negligent Entrustment Liability, Part Three

Part three of a four-part series on negligent entrustment: Invest in new technologies to avert liability exposure.

By Kevin Reilly, Editorial Communications Manager, The CEI Group, Inc.

Part one of my negligent entrustment series summarized the main grounds for a fleet-related negligent entrustment case. Part two addressed how a fleet manager could build a transparent, fair, and enforceable safety policy to help safeguard the fleet from exposure to this form of liability. Part three walks through technologies unrelated to the vehicle. I will outline the importance of investing in these newer technologies to ward off liability exposure.

Motor Vehicle Records

Most organizations order a pre-hire Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) and follow up with a yearly check-up to ensure continued compliance with policy standards and ensure that they are protected against liability exposure. But a lot can happen in a year, and there is now MVR monitoring technology that alerts fleet, safety, or risk managers of any negative change to a driver’s record as quickly as the state provides an update. While a continuous MVR monitoring program costs more than annual MVR checks, it eliminates the knowledge gap that increases the level of risk for a company.

Risk Scoring Methods

Driver safety training and risk scoring can help identify potentially high-risk drivers in advance and offer the remediation needed to prevent accidents. Of course, management can assign training to all drivers on a regular basis, but the use of risk scoring can pinpoint which drivers need attention the most.

Risk scores are calculated with data such as MVR results, accident histories, and traffic violations to create a risk profile for every driver within a fleet. More data can be utilized to delve deeper into a driver’s risk potential with technologies such as prescriptive analytics and telematics.

Telematics and prescriptive analytics have the ability to outline driver histories like never before. Both leave management a documented trail they can use in court to show methods they use to deal with drivers they know to be a problem, such as training, manager conversations, or previous terminations.

Must-Have Policies

Aside from technologies, two policies must be in place that require strict adherence – distracted driving and a drug and alcohol policy. The rise of distracted driving is due to the ubiquity of mobile devices, and every fleet should have a rigid no cell phone clause that prohibits the use of any device while the vehicle is in motion.

An employee driving drunk or under the influence is never acceptable, and driving after even a few drinks in their company vehicle is unacceptable. Any violations of either policy require swift penalties and possible termination depending on frequency or severity.

Next month, I will discuss onboard technologies that can prevent accidents and curb liability. There are many ways to avoid liability, but it is the employer’s responsibility to assume the “burden of care” when employees drive within the scope of their work. So, weigh the options and see what mix of services, technologies, and policy improvements your fleet can make to prevent accidents, injuries, and liability.

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