Here’s a dilemma: you have highly motivated employees who are great at their jobs and who are often on the road. But you have no idea whether they are good drivers. Is this a problem? You bet it is!
No matter what your employees do, safe driving must be an essential part of the job. Whether you have given it any thought or not, you have, in effect, certified that every employee who drives while working is a competent driver. You have entrusted them to carry out their jobs under your company’s banner. If they get into an accident and are driving with a suspended license or have a history of moving violations, you may be on the hook for negligent entrustment. You could take a big hit on both your workers comp (injuries to the driver and co-workers) and general liability (injuries to third parties).
Poster Boy for Negligent Entrustment
If you are looking for a poster boy for negligent entrustment, here he is: Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a 23-year-old commercial driver with a terrible driving record. His employer, Westfield Transport out of western MA, had apparently not bothered to check his commercial driving record, which was full of moving violations, DUIs and related problems. (The company seemed to be in the habit of hiring bad drivers.) Three days into his new job, Zhukovskyy lost control of his vehicle and killed seven motorcyclists. The lawsuits have already begun. It seems unlikely that Westfield will remain in business. Failure to vet the young driver – along with a shocking history of bad driving – were literally the company’s road to ruin.
Managing Employees Who Drive
There are simple management tools for ensuring safe driving. The first step is to emphasize that safe, courteous driving is an essential part of the job. Employers should develop a list of key elements in safe driving for the company and require all employees who drive to sign off on them.
Here are six of the more essential elements:
- Use of seat belts
- No hand-held cell phones/No distracted driving
- No driving while impaired
- Annual submission of motor vehicle driving records (or permission for the employer to access these records)
- Report any accidents or moving violations on or off the job within 7 days
- Report any medications that might impact safe driving (or provide a doctor’s note clearing the employee to drive)
Like most management challenges in business, there is no auto pilot for safe driving. Employers need to raise awareness and set clear policies. The great employee who is a mediocre driver will need to commit to immediate improvement – or begin looking for another job (preferably one that does not require driving).
Senior Workers Compensation Consultant