How Fleet Response helped Sprint Foster a New Culture of Driver Safety

People solving a puzzle piece

Bret Watson, corporate fleet manager for telecommunications giant Sprint, dreaded January and February. Typically slow months, he used the down time to run annual MVR scans for the 4,000-or-so drivers who used Sprint’s self-insured fleet of 3,200 cars, small SUVs, and light- and medium-duty trucks.

Each time, the process revealed a significant number of drivers whose records were in conflict with company safety guidelines. From minor infractions to serious violations such as DUI, each case had to be handled promptly – straining Watson’s small team.

“It used to be an annual event, like tax season,” says Watson. “It was a big monster that we had to do. We crossed our fingers and hoped.”

Watson had built a strong safety program; the trouble was finding a partner to help implement it. He had created a point system for drivers – like the ones used by state regulators, but customized to Sprint’s needs.

He had worked with the human resources department to ensure new hires would meet the company’s standard under the point system. But with all the other things recruiters had to consider, it was difficult to make sure they fully understood how to apply the MVR in hiring decisions. [Related article: Framing a fleet safety hiring policy and company program]

Watson had also assembled a cross-functional team to recommend policy and provide ongoing review of red-flagged motor vehicle records. The team included Watson as fleet manager, a representative from human resources, an employment law attorney, environmental health and safety manager with responsibility for companywide safety programs, and a corporate insurance manager.

“There are a lot of gray areas for interpreting MVRs,” Watson says. “If you have a DUI, you fail; if you have so many speeding tickets you fail. But what do you do with somebody who has a suspended license for six months for failure to pay a parking ticket? That’s not a result of risky driving behaviors, so does it present a risk to the company?”

If an individual record raises questions, the team serves as the review board to determine if the person meets the company driving standard.

Sprint put out an RFP for a vendor to manage the safety program, and selected Fleet Response in part because of its ability to handle the high levels of customization and interdepartmental communication required.

“Fleet Response was able to put our point system into their database,” Watson says. “Serious violations, like DUI, have a higher point value than a single speeding ticket, and the system is normalized across all states, so drivers are held to a consistent standard no matter where in the country they’re located.”

As laws change, the point system is designed to evolve – such as accounting for increased regulation over the use of cell phones while driving. As it administers the system, Fleet Response keeps up with state laws and refers recommended changes to the MVR review team.

Watson also turned over the task of running MVR scans to Fleet Response. Flagged records get sent automatically to Watson as well as a single point of contact in the human resources department. High-level data is provided to analyze results and develop forward-looking priorities.

Fleet Response also provides and administers online training. According to Jerry Veres, Certified Director of Safety for Fleet Response, the system takes the day-to-day work of monitoring safety out of Sprint’s hands, and places it with Fleet Response.

“We give them all the tools they need, an entire customized corporate safety plan. Training is done proactively and reactively, and the Fleet Response system tracks everything being done by the company and their drivers,” Veres says.

The customization goes further. In some cases – such as missing information or minor violations that can be cleared up with training – drivers are notified automatically of the issue. It allows them to proactively take the specified training modules to reduce their points. The system even incorporates claims data, so a driver involved in an accident can be assigned training before the accident has a chance to show up on his or her MVR. [Related link: Web-based solutions]

Since launching the integrated safety effort, Watson has seen a culture shift, with the value of MVR data being recognized throughout the company. The entire HR team is now fully engaged in driver safety, and collaboration among departments to consistently apply safety policies has improved, he notes.

The impact even reaches the employee recruitment process. Applicants for jobs that require use of a fleet vehicle just don’t get very far if they don’t meet Sprint’s MVR standard.

The result has been dramatic. MVR failures have been reduced to less than half a percent of all records reviewed.

“It’s become a non-concern,” says Watson. “Our streamlined automated program works perfectly. The program runs so well that if I didn’t want to be involved, I wouldn’t have to be. They’ve developed reports that now go directly to HR instead of through me. Our HR representative is on speed-dial with the team from Fleet Response.”

Based on the early success, Sprint added Fleet Response’s continual MVR monitoring service in 2017. “Now we don’t have to wait a year to hear about issues. We are alerted when an incident hits the state’s DMV,” Watson says. “The monitoring has really helped. It spreads out the work throughout the year; that’s done more than anything to reduce the workload.”

In the handful of states that still don’t facilitate continual monitoring of motor vehicle records, Fleet Response runs MVRs at least twice a year.

“Fleet Response made it very easy for us to implement our program. Their customer service is fantastic and they have the ability to change quickly. If they don’t have something, they will develop it,” Watson says. “They’ve helped us improve safety and reduce risk and exposure. Fleet Response is really an extension of Sprint – a partner and part of the greater team.”