Drive Time: Why Your Business Needs a Driving at Work Policy
It can be all too easy to overlook certain aspects about running a business that don’t seem that relevant or important at the time, but come back to bite you when things subsequently go wrong.
As someone with a legal background like Keith Magness will tell you, not having a driving at work policy in place, could leave you vulnerable when things go wrong, or when you want to regulate how and when people drive on company time.
Using company vehicles
If you have commercial motor vehicles in use within your business, there are Hours of Service Regulations (HOS) that need to be adhered to.
If you are unsure what constitutes a commercial vehicle, there are some general guidelines that you should refer to in order to determine whether any of your vehicles fall into some of the defined categories.
The weight of the vehicle will often be a determining factor and what you are transporting as well as the number of passengers the vehicles can carry, are all things that help to decide if you will have to comply with the HOS regulations.
A good starting point when developing a driving at work policy is to to check that you are achieving HOS compliance where necessary.
The question of liabilities
Some issues regarding use of vehicles for business purposes or during business hours are are not so easy to define.
It is disconcerting to note that a fair percentage of business owners are mindful of the need to protect their employees from operating dangerous equipment and machinery without first ensuring that the correct safety measures and policies are in place, but the same diligence is not always applied when it comes to driving motor vehicles.
If you consider a scenario where one of your employees is involved in an accident while driving one of your company vehicles and this results in litigation against them, there are a number of arguments that will probably be used to hold you the business owner, liable.
This could result in a case being brought against your business rather than the driver, if it is determined that you were negligent in hiring or lending the vehicle to them. A situation like this could potentially be avoided if you had the required policies in place that clearly outline what employees can and can’t do in company time.
Implementing a driver policy
There are a number of basic key requirements when you are assigning certain driving duties to employees.
The most obvious criteria should include the need for any driver to hold a valid driver’s license that is relevant to the state they are driving in. The employee should also be required to maintain a clean driving record, in order to allow them to remain insurable under your business insurance policy.
A driver policy should also stipulate that their employees who are driving company vehicles or driving on company time in their own vehicle, need to agree to observe all relevant driving laws, such as traffic and road safety laws.
You will need to make the document as comprehensive as possible and employees will be required to agree and sign the driver policy, so that they understand their obligations and you have a greater element of protection when a problem arises.
When you consider that U.S government driving stats show that there is some sort of road crash every five seconds and a death as a result of a motor vehicle crash every 12 minutes or so, you soon understand just how important it is to promote road safety to your employees.
A safety policy becomes even more relevant when you break down the stats further and discover that a large percentage of recorded crashes occur during working hours or while people are commuting to and from work.
As an employer, there are two distinct aspects to implementing and enforcing a road safety policy.
You will be helping to save some lives and reduce the prospect of someone within your workforce getting a serious injury. Another benefit attached to that approach is the fact that you will be helping to reduce the prospect of personal or company liabilities as a result of a crash.
The underlying message is that by promoting safe driving through a specific set of rules and guidelines, you are helping to look after your employees and protect your bottom line at the same time.
Isabella Manning worked as a fleet manager before becoming self employed to give herself more freedom for enjoying family life. Her articles discuss numerous business topics that are often overlooked, inadequate or outdated but that desperately need attention.