The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Identifying At-Risk Fleet Drivers

Managing risk is an important element of fleet management, and identifying at-risk drivers is essential. There are a number of risk factors a careful fleet manager can identify to help reduce losses.

October 2010, by Staff

Fleet managers spend much of their time following up - being reactive and addressing issues after they've arisen. From exception reports to accident review committees, fleet managers must use post-event data to track fleet cost and performance, and develop cost-saving processes.

Being "proactive" can be difficult, but the rewards can be substantial - preventing excess cost is far preferable to trying to recapture it after it has been incurred. Nowhere in a fleet is this truer than in managing the risk of accidents and related costs, and nowhere is risk more manageable.

Risk of What?

What types of risk should fleet managers seek to pin down? There are two primary costs associated with accidents: physical damage, the damage incurred to a company asset (vehicle) when it is involved in a collision; and liability, the company's responsibilities in compensating others for their loss when the company is found liable for that loss. Both incur hard and soft costs; however, identifying at-risk drivers can help avoid these costs.  

Collision risk factors cannot be determined by simply reviewing a motor vehicle report (MVR) and looking for violations. Some violations exhibit behavior that brings greater risk than others. The so-called "big three" violations are those that generally result in the largest portion of physical damage:

● Rear-end collisions.
● Intersection collisions.
● Merging/lane change collisions.

There are, of course, any number of additional accident types; however, these three are the most common (we'll leave out, for the moment, the infamous "hit while parked" explanation on so many fleet accident reports), and correspondingly result in the largest portion of physical damage.

Additionally, these are accidents that necessarily involve a third party, and thus open the door for liability risk and resultant costs. The first and most important step in managing risk and pegging at-risk drivers is the MVR.

Utilizing Motor Vehicle Reports

Each state provides interested parties (insurance companies, fleets, etc.) a record of drivers licensed to drive in that state. These reports are used to track violations and help determine insurance premiums (in the case of insurance companies), and for fleets, the risk the driver exhibits - and whether or not it is safe for the company to provide (or continue to provide) a vehicle.

There are several violations that don't necessarily exhibit risky driver behavior - non-moving violations such as an expired license or inspection sticker, expired registration, or cracked taillight lens are not indications of risk, provided a pattern of such violations does not exist. 

Recalling the "big three" accidents, certain moving violations can place the driver, and the company, at risk of significant costs:

● Speeding: a risk factor for just about any type of collision.
● Following too closely: a major risk factor for rear-end collisions.
● Failure to obey traffic signals: cause of many intersection accidents.
● Failure to signal: merging/lane change accidents.

Rather than just looking at violations versus clean records, pay particular attention to the type of violations that appear. Drivers with these violation types on their record should be monitored carefully. If there is a pattern, some action should be taken to mitigate the risk they bring. 

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