Handing Out Vehicles Without Driving Record Reviews Can Cost You
In 1994, an employee driving a company vehicle was found to have a less-than-desirable driving record. Although not the sole cause of the accident, the company ended up settling for $2,600,000 because of a negligent entrustment action asserted against the company.
In a recent court case, Rone Grain Company v. McFarland, the court found a company guilty of gross negligence for entrusting a heavy-truck-class vehicle to a man with seven moving violations and two accidents in four years.
There is no statutory law that requires employers to perform a DMV check of employees, but the potential liability should prompt responsible roofing contractors to do them as a matter of economic survival. Don’t depend upon the insurance carrier to determine who should and should not be driving your vehicles. A contractor is responsible for investigating the driving records of employees before entrusting them with a vehicle. As difficult as it is to find qualified employees, a bad driving record should disqualify employees from positions requiring the use of company vehicles.
Construction companies should adopt a strong hiring policy that requires performing a thorough pre-employment investigation of each driver, including a record of accidents and violations. Entrusting a company vehicle to anyone — even that “great supervisor” with a poor driving record who has been with you for years — is very risky. Although insurance companies require employers to perform periodic checks of a driver’s motor vehicle record, it is up to the employer to perform the pre-employment check before handing out a vehicle.
Even companies that have a strong policy of checking motor vehicle records, and that restrict access to vehicles to employees with a poor record, should review what actually goes on in the field. Does the company job-site superintendent or foreman give the keys to the company truck to a laborer to run an errand? Probably. Has a proper record check been performed on that employee? Probably not.
A prudent company will not allow employees to operate a company vehicle, at any time or for any reason, without a thorough investigation of their driving record and written authorization from the company safety director. To do otherwise invites potential liability should an employee with a poor driving record be involved in an accident in a company vehicle.