10.26.09

How Do Fleets Determine Driver Eligibility?



Which employees can drive a company vehicle is most often specific to each company’s organization, culture, and needs. However, common steps to determine employee eligibility include working with senior management and HR to set policy, implementing the eligibility program, communicating the policy and process clearly to drivers, and following through, particularly enforcing consequences for noncompliance.

Field Position Required at Novo Nordisk

Primarily sales and field representative vehicles, Novo Nordisk operates 2,650 fleet vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. The remaining units are executive and expatriate vehicles.

Driver eligibility criteria states drivers of the pharmaceutical company’s vehicles must have a field position (sales rep, medical liaison, or clinical research associate) or an associate vice president title or higher. U.S. employees living and working abroad for Novo Nordisk are granted a company car in their ex-pat agreement.

“We have not changed this policy in the three years I’ve been with the company, and we are not looking to change this,” said Donna Bibbo, manager, fleet & travel at Novo Nordisk, Inc.

Pfizer Utilizes MVRs to Identify High-Risk Drivers

At Pfizer, a research-based pharmaceutical company, vehicle eligibility for its 7,500-unit U.S. vehicle fleet is based on a pre-hire MVR check. Based on that check, high-risk drivers are not hired. An MVR check with risk assessment, including collision history, is run annually on all drivers.

Performance management is based on risk, including disciplinary action for high risk (3 percent of Pfizer’s population) up to and including termination (under 1 percent annually). MVRs are run for spouses or significant others — and an indefinite suspension of driving privilege is assessed for high-risk spouses. 

Worldwide, Pfizer operates 31,000 units. A minimum fleet operating standard requires management in each country establish and monitor use eligibility. The company reviews each policy, including established standards, for eligibility. Pfizer has not recently modified its program, but has experienced better success with compliance. According to Fred Turco, senior director/team leader Pfizer Fleet Global Operations, “Our policy has teeth.”

All high-risk colleague files are reviewed by personnel from HR, employee law, medical, fleet, insurance, and safety.

“The outcome is a performance management note to file or warning letter, which impacts the colleague’s ability for a raise and promotion — or termination,” said Turco. “In addition, the review has no correlation to colleague performance, just acceptable organizational risk.”

All expectations are clearly communicated and consistently implemented, notes Turco. “Lastly, we place equal emphasis on colleague recognition of ‘excellent drivers,’ or colleagues with no MVR or collision history over a specified period of time.”

[PAGEBREAK]Infinity Insurance Uses Online Driver Training Program

Chuck Kukal, fleet supervisor at Birmingham, Ala.-based Infinity Insurance manages 400 Jeep Compass models. The vehicles “are used by our adjusters, business development/marketing people, and our insurance fraud special investigative units,” said Kukal.

Infinity Insurance requirements for vehicle eligibility include:

  • Pre-hire background check, including MVR if the position requires a fleet vehicle.
  • Drivers must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Vehicles must be driven a minimum of 1,000-1,200 miles per month.
  • Personal use is allowed.
  • After a reviewed MVR, an approved spouse may also drive the vehicle.

“As a part of our fleet safety and risk management program, all drivers, including approved spouses, must complete a six-module, online driver training program and receive a certificate of completion by year end,” explained Kukal. “If one of our drivers is involved in an at-fault accident, they are required to be drug-tested as well as complete additional driver training that relates to the cause of the accident.”

Infinity’s fleet administration runs an MVR annually or more frequently based upon the company’s safety and risk management point system. The company is investigating various programs that monitor driving habits and provide driver and company feedback as to improved mpg, lower maintenance costs, and a reduced carbon footprint.

PNMResources Utilizes DOT Guidelines for Eligibility

Energy holding company PNMResources operates 964 vehicles ranging from pickup trucks for meter readers to large bucket and derrick trucks for electric line construction. The Albuquerque, N.M.-based company’s driver policy has been in place since 2004. The energy company checks driving records of all employees selected for positions with job duties that include the operation of company vehicles. According to the company’s driving policy, failure to maintain an acceptable driving record may result in loss of authorization to use company vehicles.

Fleet Manager Dave Fisher follows U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) guidelines for driver eligibility. Employees required to operate company vehicles with a GVW of 26,001 lbs. or more are subject to federal DOT requirements.

Employees may be assigned a company vehicle or use one from the company fleet. Employees may use their own vehicles as a last alternative with prior approval from their supervisors. Mileage reimbursements are made at the IRS allowance rate.

Applicants are not considered for a non-DOT regulated driving position if a driving record check finds the following conditions within the previous 36 months: suspension, revocation, cancellation, or disqualification of their driver’s license; a conviction of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs; habitual violations of motor vehicle laws (six or more moving violations within a three-year period); or a conviction for three or more at-fault accidents in an 18-month period.

An additional concern for Fisher is the tightening of CDL waivers. This may cause the company to rewrite eligibility criteria.

[PAGEBREAK]N.J. Natural Gas Transitioning to Company-Provided Vehicles

New Jersey Natural Gas operates approximately 525 company vehicles; 491 are work trucks. Frank Scardillo, manager, fleet operations at the natural gas company, employs a different approach to driver eligibility.
“Since the vast majority of our fleet is work trucks used by utility workers and service technicians, it is more a work requirement that dictates a vehicle rather than driver eligibility,” explained Scardillo.

The utility recently changed its vehicle program for managers, supervisors, and professionals to company vehicles.

Under the previous program, “the employee received a predetermined monthly reimbursement for their vehicle and business miles,” said Scardillo. “The determination was based on percentage of time required in the field. We are transitioning those employees to company vehicles as their vehicle is replaced — every five years — and they will have personal use of the company vehicle. We expect to have all 104 managers, supervisors, and professionals transitioned in five years.”

Job Roles Define McDonald’s Driver Eligibility

With 3,350 fleet vehicles, McDonald’s fleet vehicles are used primarily by field operations staff in the course of managing the company’s restaurant business.

Eligibility is defined by specific job roles that require travel to McDonald’s restaurants on a routine basis. According to Susan Miller, senior fleet manager at McDonald’s, individuals in these roles generally drive a minimum of 18,000 business miles per year.

Beginning January 1, the restaurant implemented a more clearly defined criteria intended to remove gray areas concerning eligibility for a company vehicle.  

“This policy clarification resulted in the removal of more than 100 vehicles from the program,” noted Miller.

[PAGEBREAK]Delivery Company Modifies Eligibility Requirements

An automotive aftermarket parts company based in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts operates approximately 8,500 vehicles; most are light-duty pickup trucks used for commercial products delivery.

Eligibility requirements state drivers must be 21 years of age or older, with a valid driver’s license and a required MVR status that meets company standards. Geographical area and position determine which vehicle is offered to an eligible driver.

According to Carol Davies, CAFM, fleet manager at Advance Auto Parts, driver eligibility requirements for specific vehicles have been modified recently due to budget costs and a goal of a more fuel-efficient fleet.

Currently, Davies is utilizing a Snow Belt Web site provided by her lease provider to determine whether a driver is eligible for 4WD. The Web site has significantly reduced the number of 4WD company fleet vehicles.
About three years ago, the parts company also increased mileage requirements from 12,000 to 15,000 annual business miles.

Technology company Does the Math for Eligibility Requirements

Used for sales and technical services, one technology company’s U.S. vehicle fleet consists of 8,000 units, plus 900 vehicles in Canada.
According to the company’s North American fleet manager, drivers must interact with customers and drive a minimum of 8,000 business miles annually for U.S. operations. The requirement in Canada is similar, except the minimum annual number of business kilometers is 12,000 (7,456 miles).

The company realigned eligibility requirements in 2008, based on minimum annual business miles. 

“The decision was made based on economics of mileage reimbursement versus purchasing fleet vehicles,” explained the fleet manager. “I determined the break-even cost of a fleet vehicle and measured against our standard mileage reimbursement rate. Employees were allowed to keep the car for business mileage over 8,000, because it provided the best financial outcome for our transportation costs.”

USIS Provides Additional Options

Driver eligibility requirements at USIS are based on position and title. The information and security services company, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., provides background information, investigations, drug testing, and other services for the commercial and public sector industry.

For positions not automatically eligible for a company vehicle, the approximately 3,000-unit sales fleet also offers a company vehicle for drivers averaging 750 annual business miles per month, according to Bob Poore, corporate fleet manager at USIS.

save as PDF Email Bookmark and Share
Contact Us

Tune into the latest fleetcast!

Municipality Level Fleet Management

Lisa Carter, Regional Sales Manager at Merchants Fleet Management talks about public sector fleet management at the municipal level.