The importance of motor vehicle records

CarolinaFireJournal - Bill Tricarico
Bill Tricarico
10/10/2014 -

Does your agency review your drivers’ records and licenses on a regular basis? If you are not doing this basic loss prevention step, you may be jeopardizing your members and your organization.


First, it is widely known in the risk management field that motor vehicle reports (MVRs), which detail a driver’s past performance, provide a useful means of predicting future driving performance. This is dramatically demonstrated in the study, “Characteristics of Fatal Ambulance Crashes in the U.S.” conducted by the Medical College of Wisconsin. This study found that in 41 percent of ambulance crashes, the ambulance driver had a poor driving record. This is significant since it is estimated that seven percent of all drivers in the U.S. have poor driving records and further, most insurance companies provide driver selection criteria eliminating many of them. It may then be assumed that 41 percent of all ambulance crashes are caused by less than five percent of all drivers — those with poor driving histories.

Second, in a lawsuit, the driver’s record is discoverable and admissible. A poor driving history makes defense decidedly more difficult. For your organization, the publicity of having a poor driver becomes more than just an embarrassment potentially affecting public image and future fund raising.

In addition, there are more and more findings of “negligent hiring” or “negligent entrustment” by juries against organizations that utilize drivers with poor driving records, or records that indicate a flagrant disregard for traffic laws. This finding almost assuredly increases monetary awards, and in many cases has resulted in punitive damages. In most states these damages are not within the insurance contract, leaving your organization with a large unanticipated payment not covered by insurance.

Drivers with poor records certainly can and have reformed. The only means to prove this change in habits however is with time. Taking a class, placing the driver on probation, and other immediate tactics do not guarantee positive results and have not historically had a high percentage of success. Drivers need to drive defensively and within the limits of the law and do so consistently over a period of time to undo what they themselves have caused.

Maintaining drivers with good driving records is good for business and may be one of the most important things your organization can do for itself, as well as the public. Remember, it only takes one collision involving a driver with a poor record to turn around all the good your organization has done in the community.

Bill Tricarico, is a Senior Risk Management Consultant for Emergency Services Insurance Program with over 25 years experience as a firefighter/EMT with the North Bellmore Fire Dept. holding many positions including chief and also served as Fire Commissioner for the City of Cortland, NY. Chief Tricarico has also spent nearly 40 years as a risk management consultant and is on the faculty of several fire service and EMS organizations.

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