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July 11, 2017

Background Checks Part 1: What's in a driving record?

Claudia Culmone

Conducting a full review of an applicant’s background is an effective way to determine if they will be an asset to your company. In this two-part background checks blog series, we dive into the benefits and challenges associated with these checks. 

The two options when retrieving driving record details are as follows:

     1. The National Driver Register (NDR) check

     2. The Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) check 

Understanding the NDR

When someone’s license has been denied, suspended or revoked by a court of law, their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is required to provide notice to the NDR, a subdivision of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That information is then added to a database called the Problem Driver Pointer System. This database is used extensively when applying for a new license in a different state and for hiring purposes, especially when hiring for certain positions.

When obtaining an NDR report, there are five possible status outputs:

  • NELG (not eligible): The person does not meet the requirements to drive within that state.
  • ELG (eligible): The person meets the requirements to drive within that state.
  • LIC (licensed): The person has met the requirements to drive within the state and holds a driver’s license.
  • Match: There is a record for that person in the database.
  • No Match: There is no record for that person in the database.

Mass transit operators and employers who are hiring someone to engineer, operate or drive a company-owned vehicle may choose to run an NDR records check as a way to check a person’s driving history, if it is not already required. If you are an air carrier in the process of hiring a new pilot, you are already aware that a National Driver Register check is required under the Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996 (PRIA).

To retrieve the NDR report, a request should be submitted to the state where the person’s license was issued. It is important to note, however, that not all states are consistent in their submission guidelines regarding which NDR form to use. This may cause confusion. The only NDR form currently available on NATA Compliance Services’ website is the one specifically for pilot applications under PRIA: FAA Form 8060-13. A list of the most frequently asked questions regarding the NDR can be found by visiting the NHTSA website.

Is an MVR check necessary?

The MVR report comes from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and contains specific details about the person’s current driving status in that state. So, while the NDR check provides a general status output from a national database, the MVR check provides a deeper review of the violation(s) that took place on a state-by-state basis. For example, the MVR report will show a person’s ineligibility to hold a license due to multiple convictions for drunk driving or because of too many speeding tickets.

The MVR check is a great tool for operations to use following an NDR records check when a deeper analysis is needed. To save time, it can even be submitted simultaneously with the NDR. Also, for those who do not have a regulatory requirement to conduct an NDR, an MVR check can be performed on any driver who provides the appropriate information and release. The risk-analysis benefits of performing an MVR check extends to any applicant or employee whose driving record may be of concern to the Company.

Driving records and insurance rates

Insurers take a close look at employees’ driving records and use them to set the coverage rate for their employer. If you are a Fixed Base Operator or an aviation company that provides vehicles to employees, checking an applicant’s driver’s record helps you avoid paying a higher insurance premium. For example, someone with a previous suspension or multiple traffic violations is going to cost your company more money in the long term. Additionally, if you are an airport that allows private vehicle access to tenants or companies, a person with a derogatory driving record puts you at risk for litigation if the person causes harm to another, and may lead to higher insurance rates.

Choosing the right employees is essential to operating a successful business and including a driving records check is just another tool that can help you with your evaluation process.

Be on the look-out for our upcoming blog on Canada rules and pilots with DUIs.


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