Many fleet managers experience an understandable tension when faced with drivers’ tickets. They worry that offering a legal service to their drivers will encourage unsafe driving. In the mind of a Safety Manager, giving drivers a way to fight CDL tickets only masks the problem. This concern is valid, but let’s look deeper at some of the assumptions made with this perspective.
1. Safety Managers have timely visibility to all tickets.
THEY DON’T: Many drivers are already paying directly for legal services. Most are buying overpriced pre-paid legal plans at truck stops or hiring attorneys on their own to fight tickets. Fleet managers may not know about this until they run their annual MVRs. Providing drivers with a company sponsored legal service through CDL Legal will also give you better visibility of citations being worked and where they are at in the court process. Weekly reports or the online portal through CDL Legal to view citations is another tool to enhance your safety initiatives.
2. The DOT’s escalating points system is the best way to determine unsafe/problem drivers and how to punish a driver.
BUT IT’S NOT: A personalized approach to safety and drivers includes a combination of relationship and information. This combo helps fleet managers understand not just the facts of citations, but why. The manager needs to understand the driver in order to help the driver improve. And a driver who only sees the manager as someone who brings the hammer down whenever there’s a citation won’t be willing to change for them. In order to build and keep a good fleet of drivers, the fleet manager can’t only view them through the filter of their license points.
3. Fighting tickets promotes bad behavior.
NOT REALLY: Fighting the tickets doesn’t mean accepting the behavior. To say that fighting CDL tickets will create more unsafe driving is like saying that buying car insurance causes more accidents. No driver wants to get a ticket, but they do happen. Fighting tickets allows the Safety Team to address the issue directly with the driver instead of relying on the impersonal nature of a ticket and points system to convey the company’s safety culture. Instead of letting points build up and force your drivers out of a job, fight the tickets, reduce the points, then deal with the driver’s behavior.
How CDL Legal Can Help Improve Your Safety Program
If you are a current fleet manager then you know that drivers are in short supply. Creating additional benefits for your drivers is critical to your retention efforts. Fleet managers that show they understand the daily challenges drivers face will connect better with their driver base. Safety has to be the priority and part of the culture. However, you can get more accomplished by coming alongside your drivers so that when tickets happen, they can be used to teach rather than just punish.
The Benefits of A Company Sponsored Legal Service:
Visibility – Carriers that use a legal service to fight tickets can see when occur and all the details of each of them. Visibility enhances your safety initiatives.
CSA Score Improvement – Inspections that coincide with a reduced or dismissed ticket can be updated on the CSA score. For example, a 15 mph over speeding ticket results in 10 pts on CSA. However, after being reduced to a non-moving violation, it can be updated to a 1pt violation on CSA. If that happens 10 times in a year, a company can save a lot of points.
Reduced Insurance Costs – The cost of insurance is going up. Safety and Operations Managers need every advantage they can get to control rising costs. Improving both your CSA score and keeping points off your drivers’ MVRs will result in lower insurance rates.
Driver Retention – This may be the biggest benefit of them all. Fleet Managers should do everything possible to retain good drivers. All too often, good drivers get a few CDL tickets within a year and become ineligible to drive. Fleets that provide a way for drivers to proactively protect themselves encourage driver loyalty.
CDL Legal will stand behind your drivers with a proactive solution to fight CDL tickets that provides increased retention, better visibility of tickets, improved CSA scores and reduced insurance costs.