Do you have business-owned vehicles that employees use company business? Do you require employees to use their own vehicles for business driving? Whichever option applies to your company, be sure to have a policy on driving. This can enhance employee safety and avoid costly accidents.
Basic rules for your driving policy
Because the company may be financially liable for accidents, whether the vehicle is owned or leased by the company or belongs to the employee driving on company business, be sure to have a solid vehicle and drivers policy. Your policy should reiterate to employees what is common sense:
- 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
- Following up on vehicle recalls
The Department of Transportation has a booklet on automated driving systems, which shows that self-driving vehicles aren’t science fiction anymore. Obviously, when self-driving cars and trucks come into greater use, be sure to adapt your policy.
Drowsy driving is a problem that employers should be aware of. According to Sleepopolis, one in 25 adults reported falling asleep behind the wheel in the previous 30 days. Employees may become drowsy because they simply don’t get enough sleep. Shift workers, commercial drivers, and business travelers are particularly vulnerable due to long, odd hours. Simply asking employees if they’re tired before driving on company business isn’t a solution. A better idea is to educate them about the signs of drowsy driving so they can find solutions (e.g., find other means of transportation; pull over for a nap). The common warning signs include:
- Frequent yawning or blinking
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles of driving
- Missing your exit
- Drifting into other lanes
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.
Find more tips about dealing with drowsy driving from Sleepopolis.
The CDC reports that 9 people are killed each day in the U.S. because of distracted driving. The 3 main types of distracted driving are
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving
Any of these distractions can result from texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, and using GPS). Did you know that “reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk”?
Be sure your driving policy bans employees from using their cell phones while driving. Should they do so and be involved in an accident, you could be exposed to considerably liability; your insurer may not pay.
Actions following an accident
If an employee is involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving on company business (whether in a company vehicle or a personal one), your policy should dictate the protocol for the employee to follow. This can include:
- 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 up to and including termination.
The NSC offers a number of resources to use in your workplace to promote safer driving. Also look for company vehicle and driver safety policies online to get an idea of what should be included in your business’ policy. Here’s one from SHRM.