At least 20% of commercial vehicles are involved in an accident every year, and commercial vehicle crashes cost employers upwards of $50 billion annually. This should serve as a wake-up call to any employer not prioritizing commercial auto insurance and MVR checks. It’s also a major reason why our agency works with clients to implement loss control strategies that help prevent accidents from happening in the first place.
As a business owner, your commercial vehicles serve an instrumental role in your company, and it’s important to make sure the employee getting behind the wheel is competent in their craft and focused on the importance of safety. One way to help ensure this is to vet commercial drivers for their driving history and pull an MVR check.
In this blog, we’ll explore how to do that, the importance of it, and what to look for when you do obtain the information.
What Is an MVR Check?
“MVR” stands for “motor vehicle records.” MVRs are historical driving records you can pull and analyze to evaluate current and potential drivers. The information on an MVR is crucial for businesses, as it shows an individual’s accident and violation history (or lack thereof), along with their driving performance and habits.
It’s also good to be aware of MVRs when hiring drivers, as insurance companies generally take this into account when assessing risk. If you have a team of drivers with poor driving records, you will likely pay more in coverage because of the greater risk associated with their past performance. In severe cases, an insurance company could deny a driver from receiving insurance altogether based on what shows up on an MVR.
Generally, a driver with three or more violations and three or more preventable accidents is likely to be suspect to an insurance company. A driver with a major accident or violation in the past five years is also something to look out for.
Examples of minor violations:
- 20 MPH over the speed limit
- Illegal turn
- Failure to obey signage
Examples of major violations:
- Driving under the influence
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Careless driving
MVRs as a Means to Improve Performance
MVRs can also help you identify a driver who is getting close to a poor performance score. People with borderline MVRs can be warned of their status and coached to improve so they’re not blindsided by a poor score. This helps your employees retain their positions and your company cut down on potentially pricey insurance premiums.
What Shows Up on an MVR?
A pre-employment MVR check will pull the following information:
- Driving history over a specific period of time
- Moving violations
- Chargeable accidents
- DUI offenses
- Suspensions or revocations
- Point accumulations
- Driver’s license and restrictions
- Vehicular crimes
Reviewing MVRs for every one of your drivers helps ensure the individuals you hire are able to perform their duties safely.
How Far Back Does an MVR Go?
An MVR will typically pull driving records from the past 3-7 years, with three years being the most common. There’s no national database of driving records, so an insurance company will reach out to the corresponding state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or corresponding agency to gather the MVR.
Who Is Subject to an MVR Policy?
Ideally, you should run an MVR check on any employee who regularly operates a vehicle. This includes the following:
- Employees who rent vehicles during a business trip
- Employees who run errands with company vehicles
- Family members who are permitted to drive company vehicles
While someone taking the company car to a client meeting may not seem like that big of a deal, it’s still in your best interest to ensure everyone you’re handing the keys to is competent and trustworthy.
What About a Driver Who Has Worked in Multiple States?
Since the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, a driver may only have one driver’s license and one record. This makes recordkeeping much easier and helps prevent any fraudulent practices on behalf of drivers attempting to hide past violations.
Pre-Employment MVR Checks and Employee Screening
A tangible benefit of an MVR check is its ability to help screen employees during the hiring process. Every employer wants to help craft a great team from the start, but sometimes the hiring process can be fast-tracked for a variety of reasons.
MVR checks are helpful when choosing between candidates, as they help serve as another means of employee screening. They can also help you gain some peace of mind that you’re hiring someone who can be trusted.
How to Run an MVR on Employees
At Robertson Insurance, we often pull pre-employment MVR checks for businesses that want an inside look at their employees’ driving records. The most important thing to take into account when running an MVR check is to fill out the form correctly. This means an employee must sign off on the release of their driving record before a state’s DMV (or corresponding agency) will release any information.
Processing forms for an MVR check can vary by state, but it typically takes around 14 days to receive an employee’s driving record.
Annual MVR Checks on Employees
Under the Federal Motor Care Safety Administration (FMCSA), employers must request a pre-employment MVR in every state where a CDL license was held within the last three years. They also must request an annual MVR check as part of an annual review process.
What to Do if a Driver is Underperforming
There are many reasons an employee may be underperforming; everyday stress, improper training, and a lackadaisical attitude can all serve as contributing factors. From a business perspective, it’s important to work alongside and help a struggling employee. This is all the more important when your employee is responsible for handling a commercial vehicle.
Here are a few ways you can help an underperforming driver:
- Encourage Healthy Habits
Drivers spend a lot of time sitting down behind the wheel, so creating a workplace that values healthy living is paramount. One way you can do this is to offer a gym reimbursement for interested employees.
- Help Drivers Plan Their Schedule
It may be easy to overlook something as simple as time management, but it’s crucial when encouraging safety. By encouraging your drivers to prioritize their time, you can help them mitigate a feeling of hurriedness. This helps prevent the feeling of needing to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner possible, regardless of the consequences.
- Double Check a Vehicle
By law, a fleet driver is required to inspect their vehicle before starting the day. A proper inspection should take about 30-50 minutes to complete, but data shows a lot of drivers complete their checks in about 15-20 minutes. Reinforcing the importance of safety and offering incentives for clean driving records are two great ways to help drivers take the necessary time to keep both themselves and others safe on the road.
- Create a Driver Safety Program
Creating a driver safety program and distracted driving policy can help regularly communicate your company’s policies to your employers. By creating a culture of conversation that regularly shares your policies through emails, blogs, posters, and meetings can develop a healthy level of transparency.
- Detect When Drivers Are on the Road
By using applications to detect when your drivers are on the road, you can help prevent individuals from contacting a driver while their vehicle is in motion. This can help cut down on unnecessary distractions and help you drivers to focus on the road.
Why MVRs Are Important
By reducing risky drivers, you reduce your entire risk assessment and help preserve the integrity of your company by ensuring you’re doing your part to keep your drivers — and those who share the road with them — as safe as possible.
By helping you make smarter and more informed hiring decisions, an MVR check can help lower your monthly insurance premium and prevent you from having to file an insurance claim due to a driver’s violations or accidents.
Avoiding Negligent Entrustment
Vehicle accidents are an increasingly frequent and expensive claim for companies. This is primarily due to the rise of distracted driving and a legal concept called negligent entrustment.
Negligent entrustment occurs when an employer is held liable for an employee’s failure to successfully operate dangerous equipment. An employer can be found negligent for the following reasons:
- A driver becomes injured while driving for the company or causes injury to a third party or damage to physical property.
- The employer knew or should have known not to trust the employee with the company vehicle based on their previous driving record.
MVR checks help create a level of transparency within a company. They also help you, as an employer, create a culture that is built to last.
The Importance of a Comprehensive Plan
Managing distracted drivers is only becoming more difficult as technology advances. As individuals become more reliant on devices like cell phones and tablets for driving directions and on-the-road communication, commercial fleets have a duty to combat all forms of distracted driving.
This is one of the reasons it’s important to have a comprehensive risk management plan in place; something that provides specific insurance to keep your drivers and your company protected on and off the road.
MVR checks can go a long way in helping create a safer and more responsible company culture, but it shouldn’t stop there. For even more information on how to create a culture of safety on the road, fill out the form below and we’ll send you our Distracted Driving Prevention for Commercial Fleets document.