Incidence of DWI/DUI in Transportation Businesses
Even though cases of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are generally on the decline across the country, it still remains at worryingly high levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the U.S. about 29 people die every single day in motor vehicle related accidents in which alcohol impaired driving was the main causative factor.
While alcohol-related accidents costs the economy over $44 billion each year, one industry that may be the most susceptible are those that operate in the transportation industry. This is perhaps because the consequences of an employee found to be driving while intoxicated, especially during working hours or while operating a company vehicle can be quite damaging to the business, ranging from injury to the employee or others, fatalities, license suspensions, legal action against the company and even jail time.
For a multitude of reasons, no business ever wants one of their employees to face DWI/DUI charges. However, since alcohol and drug-related car accidents are an unfortunately common occurrence, it is important for businesses to be able to affirm that they have done everything in their power to prevent this from happening with their employees, for legal as well as moral reasons.
Here are some steps transportation businesses can take to minimize instances of employee DWI/DUI.
Many businesses make use of thorough background checks when hiring new employees, and for good reason. Previous DWI/DUI convictions serve as powerful red flags when considering someone for a job within the transportation industry.
It is important to note that background checks are subject to regulations at the state and federal level, including the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). However the FCRA applies to investigations or checks conducted by third parties, so it may be a good idea to conduct in-house checks for new hires where possible. Be aware, also, that if a business chooses not to hire somebody on the basis of a previous conviction, some states requires them to provide reasoning why this conviction is relevant to job performance. However, the logical link between an applicant being convicted of driving while intoxicated and being unfit for a position within the transportation industry may be pretty clear–just be sure that you have thorough documentation of the applicant’s record, your company’s hiring policies, and the contact information of an experienced business lawyer in case of legal trouble.
It can also be beneficial to administer drug tests regularly or at the time of hiring so that you can have the most necessary and up-to-date information on your employee’s’ compliance with drug and alcohol policies at all times.
Communicate with Employees
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends that businesses regularly communicate with employees about policies involving safety, drug and alcohol use, and driving during working hours in order to reduce car accidents among employees. This can include keeping copies of your company’s policies and procedures clearly posted around the workplace or well distributed among employees so that everyone knows and understands them at all times. It is beneficial to keep them somewhere visible so that the seriousness of these policies is present in employees’ minds throughout the workday.
It is also recommended that business owners require employees to sign documents, such as Driver Agreements, affirming that they understand and will comply with the company’s drug and alcohol policies, as well as safety procedures. This way, both parties can affirm that employees thoroughly understand what is required of them as it relates to DWI/DUI incidents.
Create an Environment that Promotes Safety
In addition to thorough documentation and written communication, there are actions that transportation businesses can take to make employees understand the importance of safety in the workplace and during work hours.
It may be helpful to ensure that employees have access to counseling or other mental health services, whether within the company premises or outside of it. A 2007 research finding indicated that people evaluated for alcoholism as a result of DWI and DUI charges had an increased likelihood of psychiatric disorders, begging the question of whether alcoholism and other drug dependencies may be potentially avoided by preemptive mental health interventions. To some employers, this may seem like a premature step, however, it lets employees know that their health, wellbeing and safety are taken seriously by the company.
Another action recommended by the OSHA is to reach out to the greater community outside the company regarding the importance of safe driving and the gravity of DWI/DUI charges. For example, some businesses may choose to hold public events to raise awareness of these issues. This can not only benefit public relations but create a community understanding that your business is doing all it can to prevent DWI incidents.