This is the second instalment of our Employment & selection of drivers articles aimed at encouraging discussion with your clients. Driver selection is a key area of risk management. Most SMEs including fleet operators, need to supplement their house employment resources with external advisors - brokers can play a role by providing some of this advice or introducing more specialised providers (examples – external driver training, risk management programmes, telematics providers, etc).
Part 2. Driver selection
Drivers Declarations & License Prints Outs
It all about the wheel nut - the nut behind the wheel!
Every employer knows choosing the wrong employee is a mistake that causes many problems. Finding quality employees is the bane of every business. This is certainly the case for fleet operators, particularly transport businesses where every income generating asset needs an operator (each truck needs a driver).
Yet, many will say it’s hard to get “good” drivers, so we had to take what we could get. Even though it is probably better to have a vehicle idle or a lost job than the costs (financial, physical, reputational) of having an employee who shouldn’t be on the road.
All the things that make a company “an employer of choice”, also applies to fleet operators looking for drivers - the culture, reputation and conditions. In addition to the usual employee selection criteria (considering employment history, competency , experience, cultural fit etc) the driving skills & history of an prospective employer will come into play.
Driver selection should take into consideration the implications to the Motor Fleet insurance policy. Most fleet policies provide broad & generous cover for all drivers, with few, if any restrictions (maybe increased excesses). However clients & brokers must be aware of more arduous conditions that may have be imposed if the account has a poorer loss history, is in high risk sector or is placed into the “fringe insurer” markets where minimum driver age & experience conditions / exclusions may be imposed.
Two processes to be encouraged in the selection process are completion of Drivers Declarations & obtaining Drivers License History Prints outs.
Drivers declarations forms are available from most fleet insurers (and generally in a format that may be customised for a specific client). These declarations will often seek out information that a standard employment questionnaire may not - particularly a drivers accident & insurance record. Drivers will often treat a form that is required for “insurance purposes” more seriously & thoroughly than a CV which is aimed at getting a job. As an example a driver may state they have no underlying medical conditions, but a drivers declaration may draw out that they have had a couple of “fell asleep at the wheel” accidents potentially highlighting conditions which may affect a drivers abilities & also suggesting further medical pre-employment vetting.
State Licensing authorities will provide to drivers print outs of the License history for a small fee. It is good idea for existing & new employees to supply these at initial employment & then annually. Many drivers have suspended licenses and continue to drive - an extent understandably not wanting to lose their livelihood - but none the less against the law. Most states have either a summary or detailed format of License record print. The detailed record will contain the date of issue of license classes and of driving offences, convictions & penalties.
With the completed drivers declaration & license print out in hand the fleet owners must decide if a drivers accident, driving & convictions history are acceptable. Despite throw away lines often made to insurers of “all drivers over 25, 2+yrs experience , no accidents or convictions” most professional drivers do have some blemishes on their driving records. Each fleet operator must determine their own criteria for what is an acceptable driver. The specific nature of the work will determine the standard. A plumbers apprentice occasionally driving a medium rigid vehicles may be acceptable with a lesser standard than the driver of b double doing line haul work. Loss of a license due to a minor camera offence on a double demerit point holiday weekend may be viewed differently to more serious offences. How many years after a very serious offence (drink/drug driving in a heavy or public passenger vehicle, furious driving) is a driver acceptable? Do you really want to have drivers with a history of road rage representing your co? Most fleet insurers are happy, and generally encourage an opportunity to assist clients in these decisions.
Common sense must prevail, as many of drivers have had incidents in the past, which must be weighed up with the importance & demands of the driving role.
Many fleet owners use as guide for acceptable drivers
- No more than 8 points lost during the last 3 years.
- No serious offences in 5 yrs.
- At least 2 years driving experience in class or within the lower license class.
- 2 or less at fault accidents in 5 years.
Whilst there are no simple "cover all" guidelines for selection of acceptable drivers, brokers can play a part in these discussions with clients.