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

Part two of a four-part series on negligent entrustment:  How to build a strong, enforceable safety policy.

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

In part one of my negligent entrustment series, I outlined the main grounds for a fleet-related negligent entrustment case. In this part, I will outline how to build a strong safety policy that a fleet manager can properly enforce. If you do not make a safety policy that is transparent, fair, and evenly enforced, you will leave your company open to negligent entrustment liability, and a host of other issues.

Start building a better safety policy by involving as many levels of the fleet structure as possible, including top executives, HR, legal, risk managers, and even field managers and drivers. It is crucial for a safety program’s success that top executives are involved because full buy-in from upper management sets the expectations of the entire company. HR, legal, and risk managers possess the knowledge to define how certain safety practices are a good fit for the organization. Lastly, field managers and veteran drivers with direct experience of day-to-day operations can provide insight into how particular policies may limit drivers’ ability to perform their jobs.

Multiple points of view help craft creative solutions to implement a safety policy that best suits your unique fleet needs. But remember that getting buy-in from top executives can be the hardest sell, so make sure that you have data to support your cause. A company specializing in safety can help you build a business case to present to upper management by bringing together efficiencies, savings, and industry best practices.

If outside help at the start is not an option, remember that there are many resources available from industry and government agencies to help inform policy decisions and the viability of safety technologies. Some of those organizations include NETS, NSC, IIHS, and the NHTSA, who all do extensive research on roadway statistics and driving behaviors. Many of their informational programs are great starting points for building a case on your own.

The final step when building a safety policy is making sure that the policies are fair and enforced. If a policy is too strict or too soft on a driver, a manager may not see the need to take action. Managers need to know that they must enforce policies every time any driver does not comply, and clear documentation of remediation must be in place. A rewards system for a fleet’s best drivers can help make enforcing repercussions for risky drivers easier.

Not enforcing a policy, or harshly enforcing a policy for one employee and not for another, can weaken a company’s position in the case of legal proceedings. It only takes one misstep to make a case against a fleet for negligent entrustment, and this is why a reasonable safety policy with strict enforcement is crucial.

Tune in next month for part three, where I will dive into the options available for monitoring and protecting drivers, including Motor Vehicle Record monitoring, accident records, vehicle safety technologies, telematics, etc., and how to decide if these technologies are worth the investment from a liability standpoint.

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