The following question has been asked frequently to our risk management and safety experts at the Safety Hotline. You can find more information about our Safety Hotline at the bottom of this article.
There are many situations when employees drive their personal vehicles to perform business-related tasks or activities: travel between worksites, client visits, transportation of clients, travel home from work-related events and even quick stops to pick up food for a meeting. It is important to consider the risks that such activities can create.
Driving a personal auto in lieu of a company-owned vehicle may seem to minimize an employer’s liability, but employers can be held partially liable for damages in the event of an accident. If an insurer discovers the individual was driving for business or even making a call for business purposes while driving, it may take action against the employer for subrogation purposes.
When employees will be driving their own cars for work, there are several actions you can take as an employer to mitigate risk.
Any company that allows or requires employees to use their personal vehicles for business should either purchase hired and non-owned coverage or add it to an existing automobile policy. Hired coverage is for situations in which autos are not owned by the company or the driver, and non-owned coverage protects the company against liability when vehicles that are owned by employees are used on behalf of the company. In the event of an accident, these policies supplement the driver’s personal auto policy, which is typically activated first. For minimal yearly premiums, these policies generally protect the company only, not the car or the driver.
Every employer with employees who drive for work purposes should have a sound policy in place that sets certain parameters for work-related driving, including such things as:
Requiring drivers to observe all traffic laws and vehicle safety rules
Requiring drivers to report all moving violations as well as accidents (whether occurring during or outside of work hours)
Requiring personal vehicles driven for work purposes be properly insured
Requiring employees involved in an accident to get insurance information from any other drivers, as well as contact the police since a police report may be necessary for an insurance carrier to process a claim
Prohibiting employees from texting while driving, and strongly discouraging the placing or taking of calls while driving. At the very least, use a hands-free device if a call is absolutely necessary and the vehicle can’t be pulled out of traffic and stopped
The employer’s refusal to pay the costs of any parking or traffic tickets the employee receives
The consequences of failure to comply with the policy
After the driving policy has been instated, it should be actively communicated and enforced. Managers of employees utilizing personal vehicles should be directed to monitor the safety and maintenance of those vehicles. Employees found out of compliance with the company policy should be subject to reassignment or termination. It is every employer’s responsibility to ensure its employees’ safety on the job, and those that use personal vehicles on business are no exception.
If you could give human form to your safety culture, what would it look like?
Maybe it would be a thick-set, shirtless brute named Trog with a foul disposition beating out a drum cadence to keep your employees rowing in-sync.
Or would it be more like a fussy and constantly disapproving Dickensian paper-pusher named Fizzlewhite who has never met a rule or procedure he didn’t like, even though he hasn’t done most of the things he creates rules to address?
If you were to search the various “mommy blogs” and parenting advice websites out there, how many of them do you think would endorse the following practice?
A child’s safety should always be a top priority for any parent. When leaving children under the age of 10 alone in the house for lengthy periods of time, be sure to provide the kids with a loaded pistol with the safety off in case a stranger should happen by. In a pinch, recently sharpened knives can be substituted for the pistol.
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