Ignition Interlocks For Company Vehicles

Fleet managers dread it… Risk management and insurance services managers warn about it…  Senior management frequently wants to ignore it… but it happens anyway, every day… Employees get caught driving drunk.

Thousands of companies in the United States have millions of fleet vehicles  on our local streets and highways.  The average fleet  employee  drives between 20,000 and 25,000 miles each year.  These drivers can be “professional” drivers, often with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) whose job it is to transport goods or passengers. Other drivers who have off-site work locations spend a good part of their day driving from location to location.  What they do have in common is that many of them are driving under the influence of alcohol; at work, often in company vehicles as well as on personal time in their own vehicle.  Either way, once it happens, the employee’s problems become their employer’s problem, whether they have a company vehicle or not.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data:

  • There is one alcohol-related motor vehicle injury on our roads every two minutes!
  • Every day 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.
  • 25% of all occupational fatalities are motor-vehicle related.
  • Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.

Companies with fleet vehicles are the ones spending a big chunk of that $132 billion when accidents occur. The following are just a few of the expenses that fall to an employer whose employee gets a DUI-related crash:

  • Company vehicle repair/loss
  • Loss of employee productivity due to injuries
  • Health insurance cost for injuries
  • Immeasurable cost of a damaged reputation to a company

Companies should have policies to prevent drunk driving. In fact many companies do have policies in place to prevent alcohol consumption at work, as well as drunk driving. However, those policies do not always stop drunk driving.   It is estimated that 16% of all fatal crashes during the work week were drunk driving crashes, and Highway State Patrols across the country continue to note that daytime DUIs are increasing.

The solution for many companies is a reactive one. Once an employee is arrested and/or convicted of impaired driving, he or she is terminated.  Thousands of dollars are then spent each year related to the turnover costs for the terminated employees.  There are also legal and administrative costs for each termination, adding another outrageous expense to companies trying to manage a tight budget in today’s economy. These costs don’t include the often immeasurable expense of a company’s reputation that is often tarnished when a drunk driving accident takes place.

One cost-effective and proactive solution is to install an ignition interlock device into company vehicles. An ignition interlock is a device that measures the alcohol in your breath and allows you to start your vehicle if it is below the set point. The device also requires periodic retests while the vehicle is running. The interlock records a number of items including test results, engine starts and vehicle run times. Any violations, for example failed tests or missed retests, are recorded by the device.  Interlock devices have the ability to record real-time GPS and photo imaging with real time notifications.

The devices could be installed into all company vehicles; or, if the vehicles are not assigned to particular employees, a predetermined number of devices could be installed on vehicles with different employees driving those vehicles each day.

There are many potential benefits for companies; most obvious is the fact that companies will drastically reduce their costs for alcohol-related accidents and injuries as well as the turnover costs for terminating employees. The second intangible cost is the ability for companies to show their proactive approach to safety to their customers and the public.

While there is no official practice among commercial insurers, check with your company’s insurance provider to see if they would be willing to reduce your premiums for the use of ignition interlock devices in fleet vehicles.

For more information on ignition interlock devices and how they might benefit your organization, visit www.lifesafer.com.