Many carriers pull their drivers’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) to check for violations and privilege suspensions just once a year. This means that, in some cases, a driver could lose driving privileges for up to 364 days before a carrier ever finds out.

This “same time next year” approach to MVRs doesn’t work in the carrier’s favor. While FMCSA has issued minimal requirements surrounding MVR checks, carriers doing only the bare minimum are creating and perpetuating visibility gaps that leave their fleets vulnerable.

FMCSA requires carriers to run MVR checks when a driver is hired and at least annually thereafter. Additionally, the agency requires drivers to self-report any loss of driving privileges to their employers. 

These monitoring requirements apply to a wide range of employees, including:

• CDL, non-CDL and nonregulated vehicle drivers.
• Part-time drivers.
• Leased independent contractors.
• Mechanics who test drive commercial vehicles.
• Operators of any vehicle hauling passengers.
• Delivery vehicle drivers.

The problem is that drivers may not self-report violations and loss of privileges to carriers in a timely manner. This opens the door to a plethora of legal, financial and safety issues.

Drivers’ willful failure to report a loss of driving privileges is not the only issue carriers should be aware of. Both CDL and non-CDL drivers can have their privileges revoked due to unpaid child support, and CDL drivers can lose them due to lapsed medical certificates. In these scenarios, it is possible that the drivers themselves are not aware of the lost privileges. 

At the end of the day, the burden falls to carriers if their drivers fail to report violations and penalties throughout the year. In the event of an audit — or a court case — carriers cannot use ignorance as a defense. 

“Carriers unaware of loss of driving privileges are at greatest risk of a nuclear verdict,” said J. J. Keller Sr. Editor of Transport Management, Mark Schedler. “The driver should not have been driving a commercial vehicle due to either disqualification or unmet hiring criteria, and the carrier will be held liable.”

Beyond the courtroom, carriers take on a multitude of other risks when choosing not to regularly monitor the status of their drivers. Those risks range from affected safety ratings and higher insurance rates to lost business and tarnished reputations. 

Thankfully, companies can reduce risk and increase retention with more frequent monitoring.

How can carriers mitigate risk?

There are a wide range of proactive measures carriers can take to reduce their risk of having an unsafe driver on the road.

Ongoing MVR monitoring

Keeping a close eye on record changes is the foundation of a proactive driver management approach. Carriers can do this in a few different ways. The right choice for an individual carrier will depend on its size, internal bandwidth and financial position.

• Pull service — Carriers must access and be able to interpret the complex list of status codes and dates of changes to the driving records.

• Push service — Carriers receive alerts for changes to driver records.

• Third-party service — This takes the bulk of the work off the carrier’s plate. The provider must comply with Fair Credit Reporting Act consent and notification requirements. Pre-adverse-action notices should be sent to drivers to advise that the use of a third-party-provided report may affect a hiring or retention decision.

Utilize MVR finds to address driver behavior

Not all negative finds on a report should automatically lead to driver termination. When less critical — but still concerning — issues show up, carriers should step in and ensure corrective action is taken before a full-blown pattern of problematic behavior is established. 

Taking a proactive approach to correcting issues ultimately leads to less risk and improved retention for carriers. To make the process as simple as possible, carriers can utilize solutions like J. J. Keller’s MVR Monitoring Service, which includes corrective action training.

Create company policies with other best practices 

When a carrier moves from reactive to proactive MVR monitoring, putting official policies and best practices in place to support that change is essential. By providing a clear framework, carriers set their employees up for success.

Some examples of best practices include:

• Score MVRs — Assign severity points to violations and events on MVRs to assess risk.

• State the goal of the monitoring program — For example, to get drivers back on track, save a career and prevent crashes and citations.

• Define when coaching, refresher training and other corrective actions must take place.

• Assign an in-house expert or engage a trusted third party to avoid misinterpreting licensing authority MVR codes for status changes/suspensions or violations.

• Include nonregulated drivers (not just CDL and non-CDL commercial drivers).

Click here to learn more about J. J. Keller.

The post Carriers can reduce legal, financial risk with more frequent MVR monitoring appeared first on FreightWaves.

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