istock_69343943_smallsEvery executive is familiar with the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. Your company makes 80% of its money from 20% of its customers, for example, or 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products.

For fleet managers, the 80/20 rule takes on a darker meaning: If your fleet is like most fleets, about 80% of your accident and third-party claims are generated by about 20% of your drivers.

The good news is that most of your drivers are safe drivers. The bad news is that a small group is causing most of your headaches. So let’s figure out how to make your 20% as safe as your 80% and reduce the frequency of claims and negligent entrustment exposure.


New Standards

Having worked with a number of fleets of various sizes and occupations, I can tell you that there are three sure ways to raise your overall safety score:

  • Identify the 20% of drivers who are putting your company’s legal exposure at risk.
  • Provide remedial action to bring the 20% back into the 80%.
  • Monitor every driver so none of the 80% drift into the 20%.

At my company, we offer a product called FleetGuard. It gives fleet managers a dashboard that displays their drivers’ motor vehicle reports (MVRs) and accident histories so they can identify those who are in need of training. But I’m not here to plug my product. In fact, I’m going to tell you how you can do it yourself.

First, make a list of all the contributing factors — such as a history of speeding, a suspended license, or a DUI — and add all those factors up to give each driver a score. The highest-scoring 20% will become quickly apparent, and those are the drivers you need to focus on.

Remedial Driving

If possible, I would take away the 20%’s driving privileges until they get to an appropriate level. They may need online or even behind-the-wheel training. That part is easy. The challenge is reinforcing that training and the process with sufficient frequency or, if possible, to automatically maintain all drivers’ focus on safe driving.

The implications of failing to do so are profound, and the scenario is played out in courtrooms across the country: A plaintiff’s attorney, using the same data points you have access to, makes the case that you had an unsafe driver behind the wheel of one of your vehicles and made no attempt to identify them. Or worse, you did identify them and did not take sufficient action to improve their performance or, in the worst cases, take them off the road.

Worse yet, imagine if your defense is that the driver in question is a very good salesperson and the company couldn’t afford to take them off the road, or that the driver was a high-level executive with your company and beyond standard driver policies. You would find very little sympathy from any judge or jury.

Now let’s say you did identify the driver and provided remedial action. That would demonstrate an effort to improve your fleet’s safety. More importantly, it proves your company puts people before profits.

Determine your drivers’ safety scores, provide the training they need, and monitor everyone — regardless of their respective income levels. Your own job and your company’s future can depend on it.

Rich Tillotson is vice president of sales and business development for CCM Services and a 25-year veteran of the automotive fleet industry. Contact him at