I don’t have any kind of standard when I look at the motor vehicle record,” says one small-fleet manager at an insurance agency. “What I should be looking for, how many traffic tickets or accidents, I have no concept. That’s the problem—I’m just using common sense but I don’t really know. Sound familiar? Establish a System The first step to understanding your fleet risk requires establishing criteria to determine what constitutes an acceptable driving record. Zurich Risk Engineering, part of the Zurich Financial Services Group, created the point system in the accompanying chart to help companies evaluate prospective drivers and existing employees. Jim York, manager of Zurich’s transportation team in the risk engineering business unit, suggests evaluating a rolling 36-month period for most violations, and a rolling five-year period for “disqualifying events” (25-point violations).
MVR Evaluation Points System
Violation or conviction Points/Violation
Vehicular homicide
25
DWI, DUI or refused test
25
Leaving scene of an accident
25
Reckless driving
25
Currently suspended license
25
Major preventable accident
13
Passing stopped school bus
13
Speeding >15 mph above speed limit
10
Speeding 10-14 above speed limit
8
Failure to obey traffic device
8
Failure to yield right-of-way
8
Driving wrong side of road
8
Illegal passing
8
Following too closely
8
Other preventable accident
8
All other moving violations
5
Speeding less than 10 mph above limit
5
Non-preventable accident
3
Non moving violations 3
Courtesy Zurich Services Corporation Assessing MVRs: the good, the bad, the ugly Assessing driving records involves understanding the severity of infractions and accidents, and knowing which and how many of each put a driver over the line. Analyzing MVRs can be tricky, especially ones from out of state. Most states’ Departments of Motor Vehicles have their own point system for violations. Though types of violations are generally viewed with equal severity across states, the definitions of violations, and number of points assigned to each, vary widely. “In one state reckless driving is one to 10 miles over the speed limit, as a way not to have to put you down for speeding,” says Ray Gooley, vice president, limousine program manager of Managing Agency Group. “In other states it could mean you tried to avoid the law.” {+PAGEBREAK+} What, then, constitutes a good or bad driver? Generally, insurance companies consider a driver who has one or fewer accidents or violations over three years to be a safe driver. Thomas Walsh is a former worldwide corporate safety director for United Parcel Service, as well as the past chair of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). He now runs a workplace safety consultancy. Walsh says that under UPS guidelines a driver who has had two or more preventable accidents or two or more moving violations in the past five years is classified as high risk. Certain infractions should raise red flags immediately, says Gooley. His “absolute no-no’s” include: racing, evading a police officer, evading responsibility after an accident, passing a school bus, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and driving 20 miles over the speed limit. Driving with a suspended license is a major infraction under most systems. This may be an innocent oversight if a driver has moved recently, because the post office does not forward license renewals. “You may not find out until a cop pulls you over,” Gooley says. Accidents are viewed as preventable and non-preventable. York says these three accident types represent a majority of Zurich’s claim costs: an intersection crash, a lane-change merge crash, and a rear-end collision. They’re attributable to driver error and therefore carry a high point total (13 points) on the Zurich chart. It is important to become familiar with the terminology on MVRs. Work with your insurance agent to understand your carrier’s parameters for acceptable driving records, and then set up your driver assessment system accordingly. Assign levels of risk The next step is to assign fleet drivers to a risk level based on their violations and accidents: Level One: Under 15 points Level Two: 15 – 20 points Level Three: 21 – 24 points Level Four: 25 points and above Appropriate training, education, discipline and rewards can then be applied to levels of risk.
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