Screening transportation program applicants using Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs)

Markel often receives requests to obtain MVRs to support staff hiring decisions. We strongly encourage programs obtain MVRs as a pre-employment risk management  screening process as part of their transportation program. Proactive risk management strategies are proven to reduce loss activity, including vehicle accidents. Employers  must evaluate information on an MVR in order to determine employability for anyone that may be driving a program vehicle. Hiring should not be based on whether the applicant meets an insurance company’s underwriting criteria for approved drivers.

Having applicants provide MVRs as part of an application process has a number of benefits. Most notable is it provides an opportunity for a more comprehensive analysis of a driver’s driving history. A study completed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Completeness of Driver Records, reported that both state-level and local practices (for processing MVRs) adversely affect the completeness and usefulness of driver history records. These practices reduce insurers’ and employers’ ability to evaluate risks of prospective or current insured or employees. Non-governmental agencies, such as insurance companies and employers are limited in the scope of information they can obtain on an MVR. For example, in Virginia, MVRs requested by potential employees contains up to 7 years of driving history. It may be issued to the potential employee or to employers, but must be accompanied by a signed release authorizing them to obtain records for the purpose of employment. Conversely, insurance MVRs often only obtain 3 years of records.

Why is this important? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), when you use consumer reports to make employment decisions, including hiring, retention, promotion or reassignment, you must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FTC enforces the FCRA.

Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know, outlines requirements that an employer must do when they use MVRs as a pre-employment screening tool.

  • Tell the applicant or employee that you might use information in their consumer report for decisions related to their employment. This notice must be in writing and in a stand-alone format. The notice cannot be in an employment application. You can include some minor additional information in the notice, like a brief description of the nature of consumer reports, but only if it does not confuse or detract from the notice.
  • Get written permission from the applicant or employee. This can be part of the document you use to notify the person that you will get a consumer report. If you want the authorization to allow you to get consumer reports throughout the person’s employment, make sure you say so clearly and conspicuously.
  • It’s a good idea to review applicable laws of your state related to consumer reports. Some states restrict the use of consumer reports – usually credit reports – for employment purposes.

In addition to state laws, you can consult your State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for what information you can obtain to support a proactive transportation risk
management process.

You can access the Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.