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Six ways to save when your employees are on the road

Whenever your employees are on the road for business, your organization is subject to liability. Even incidental auto exposure can generate losses. Taking action to reduce risk will provide a variety of benefits, including:

  • Prevention of injury to important members of your team
  • Reduced Workers' Compensation costs and employee downtime
  • Reduced cost of vehicle replacement and repair
  • Reduced exposure to lawsuits from other injured drivers
  • Reduced insurance premiums due to an improved safety record

What can you do to manage automotive risk?

Review drivers' motor vehicle records: Reviewing your employees' Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) should be a routine part of the hiring process. In the event of an accident, a failure to perform due diligence in the course of hiring can make you liable. These checks shouldn't stop at hiring time - driver's record checks should take place at least once a year or even more often depending on your exposure. Your HUB advisor can connect you to vendors or insurance carriers who can perform these checks on your behalf.

Provide ongoing safe-driving training:  All drivers can benefit from refining their skills. One-on-one feedback in live driver-safety courses is especially valuable; however online training is effective and more affordable. Participating in programs that educate employees on proper mirror use, vehicle maintenance, best practices and common errors can reduce the probability of accidents - and often earn discounts on coverage costs.

Observe and act promptly on driver behavior:  You can't be in the car with your employees all the time, but there are multiple ways to monitor them. Signs on vehicles with 1-800 numbers allow others who are on the road to provide timely feedback while providing an opportunity to raise awareness of your brand. These programs have been proven to improve safety performance, provided there is a prompt response to feedback. Waiting more than 24 hours to act on reports of bad performance will not only undermine your ability to influence driver behavior, but also open you to liability.

Develop safe-driving policies: Before you allow employees to hit the road on your behalf, make sure they read and understand safety policies. Some issues that are important to address include:

  • Vehicle maintenance and inspection: Maintenance should be performed in accordance with the vehicle manual. Tire pressure and fluid levels should be checked regularly. Every time employees hit the road, they should perform a basic inspection of lights, wipers, mirrors, steering wheel position and seat position - especially if more than one driver uses the same vehicle. Checklists can be extremely helpful.
  • Driving under the influence: Policies should explicitly state that drunk driving while on business will lead to termination, or at least the end of driving privileges. Alcohol is not the only substance that can impair performance. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs recommend against operating equipment when in use and these warnings should be taken seriously.
  • Distracted driving: Use of electronic devices while driving can greatly impair performance. Texting while driving can lead to behavior that is indistinguishable from drunk driving, such as changes in speed, weaving between lanes and reduced peripheral vision and reaction times.

Another source of distraction on the road is conversation. Most people are aware that use of a hand-held phone while driving increases risk of collision; however they may not be aware that intense conversations can take focus away from the road. Even if the driver is using a hands-free device or talking to someone else in the car, the conversation can distract the driver's attention to the most important task at hand - driving safely.

Lead by example: Model safe driving practices for your employees. If a detailed or important conversation needs to take place, encourage them to get off the road to a safe place before participating. Don't expect them to respond to all messages immediately. If you are talking to an employee and find they are driving, end the call and tell them to call back later. Discuss effective time management so they aren't speeding between appointments. No conversation or appointment is worth ending a life.

Technology in the future: Companies with large fleets often invest in GPS systems to monitor drivers, and this technology is becoming cost-effective for organizations with fewer drivers. Mileage checks and cellular triangulation are less costly measures that may be worth discussing with your HUB advisor.

Enacting these safety polices can not only reduce your cost of coverage, but will also protect your most important asset - the lives and safety of your employees. Take the time to talk to your HUB advisor about how to effectively manage the risk your employees face when on the road.