With employees getting back to the office and other locations, company policies regarding business driving as well as employee commuting deserves another look. This is especially true in light of new technologies and other changes in employee behaviors. This blog is adopted from an earlier post.
Whether the vehicle is owned or leased by the company or belongs to the employee driving on company business, the company may be financially liable for accidents. This why it’s essential to have a solid vehicle and driving policy. Your policy should include common sense advice to employees as well as actions for the company to take with respect to company vehicles:
- Obey traffic laws, making allowances for weather and traffic conditions
- Wear seatbelts
- Do not drive when impaired by medication, alcohol, or drugs
- Report any mechanical difficulties in a company vehicle (e.g., low tire pressure)
- Maintain a valid driver’s license
- Follow up on vehicle recalls
New technology has introduced self-driving vehicles and driverless vehicles. Some companies are already adopting their use, such as Domino’s Pizza using driverless vehicles for deliveries.
A couple of years ago, the Department of Transportation released a booklet on automated driving systems. It shows that self-driving vehicles aren’t science fiction anymore.
Obviously, if you start to use self-driving or driverless vehicles, adapt your business driving policy.
Distracted and drowsy driving
A major cause of accidents in the U.S. is distracted drivers. OSHA suggests that you make it company policy to bar actions that contribute to distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving). Did you know that “reaction time is delayed for a driving talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk”?
Another problem causing vehicle accidents is drowsiness, with drivers nodding off or falling asleep at the wheel. The CDC offers information about drowsy driving and suggests that once a driver recognizes a warning sign (not always easy to do), to just legally pull over and rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
A relatively new issue is driving under the influence of marijuana, and the number of drivers testing positive for THC following an accident has increased substantially. While use of this controlled substance is legal for medical and/or recreational use in more than half the states, and many states bar employers from taking adverse actions against employees using medical marijuana, businesses still need to be concerned about impaired driving. Employers need to walk a fine line to bar impaired driving without barring the use of marijuana in states where it’s legal.
Other actions to include in your policy
Craft the protocol to follow if an employee is involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving on company business (whether in a company vehicle or a personal one), such as:
- Remaining at the scene of the accident for police to arrive
- Completing an accident report
- Having drug or alcohol analysis immediately following the incident
- Furnishing a copy of the report to the company
Make sure employees understand your driving policy. You can print it out and have each employee sign it. Also be sure they understand the consequences for violating the policy. This can include disciplinary action and up to termination.
To help you create your driving policy, consider using a template, such as one from Workable, that you can adapted to your specific situation. Be sure to have your policy reviewed by an attorney.
And now that the amount of driving is increasing, insurance rates may follow suit. Take this into account in your budget.
Two of my favorite quotations from unknown authors are “Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer” and “Arrive alive.”