13 Key Elements of an Effective Driver and Fleet Safety Program

Jan 28, 2021 | Business Insurance

What do employee medical expenses, property damage, legal costs and lost employee productivity, all have in common? They’re all costs that organizations face due to vehicle accidents. How much does this cost companies each year? About 60 billion dollars.

Vehicle accidents cost employees almost twice as much as the average workplace injury. This is a troubling statistic especially for organizations that manage large vehicle fleets.

There are over 200,000 organizations that operate private fleets in the United States. It is the responsibility of all of these organizations to ensure that fleet safety is a top priority.

An organization can have a fleet as small as two vehicles, while other companies have hundreds of vehicles in their fleet. Companies usually lease their fleet vehicles. An employee-owned vehicle is also considered to be part of a company’s fleet. This would be the case if it is used for work-related tasks. The organization can be held liable if an accident occurs while the vehicle is being used to conduct company business. Especially if the accident involves injuries.

Last year, there were millions of fleet vehicles in use in America. These included both cars and trucks. This number makes fleet safety essential. It highlights the need for the implementation of effective fleet safety programs.

What is a Fleet Safety Program?

A fleet safety program identifies specific policies and procedures. These help ensure a safe work environment for your drivers.

An effective program should include continuous screening, testing, inspection, and training. The fleet safety program should involve all employees that drive a vehicle for company business. It should be comprehensive, current and, part of your organization’s safety culture.

It can help reduce the number of vehicle accidents involving your fleet and that may result in injuries.

The Importance of a Fleet Safety Program

A fleet safety program is important for any company that manages a fleet. It helps improve safety, employee satisfaction, and improves fleet efficiency.

The average fleet driver travels between 20,000 to 25,000 miles every year. They face greater than a one in 15 chance of getting into an accident. Safety of your fleet drivers should be of utmost importance.

Vehicle accidents involving your company vehicles can result in high costs for your company due to:

  • The negative impact it can have that may highlight your company and your drivers as unsafe or careless
  • The harm it may cause to others due to the negligence of your drivers
  • Loss of operational downtime/loss of productivity
  • Possible lawsuits as a result of driver negligence

A fleet safety program can lower your risk. It facilitates safety compliance by your fleet drivers, controls costs, and improves productivity.

13 Key Elements of an Effective Driver and Fleet Safety Program

You can have a successful fleet safety program by ensuring they include some important elements.

1. A Culture of Safety

Promoting a culture of safety throughout your organization makes the implementation of safety protocols easier. It becomes second nature to your employees.

A culture of safety would include:

  • Physical reminders about safety throughout the organization
  • Employee exposure to safety seminars, workshops and training that support the goals of your safety program
  • Annual requalification and refresher courses including regular on-the-road safety assessments for each driver
  • ‘Walking’ the safety ‘talk’ in every aspect of your business

Safety implementation in the organization should have a top-down approach. Leadership and management should become the champions of the safety program. This will encourage other members of the organization to adopt and follow your company’s safety protocols.

2. Leadership Commitment

A culture of safety should start at the top. Leaders should lead by example by ensuring they also adhere to safety regulations. This includes implementing and following safety-related Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) as well as safety procedures and policies.

A part of leadership’s commitment to safety should involve the protection of employees and the organization in the event of an accident. Consider extensive business insurance coverage, including fleet auto insurance, to reduce any known or unforeseen risks.

A business insurance policy will:

  • Assist during business interruptions
  • Protect you from lawsuits
  • Cover workers’ compensation, in the event of an accident
  • Minimize the costs associated with loss of property, including vehicle damage or destruction

Leadership’s commitment to employee and workplace safety, will encourage employee buy-in and reinforce a culture of safety throughout the organization.

3. Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs)

Your organization should have a set of Standard Operating Procedures that drivers can review and agree to. SoPs are brief, step-by-step instructions that are easy-to-understand. They outline action points and workflows that assist employees in performing their day-to-day functions.

They reduce miscommunication and help employees comply with company standards. Standard Operating Procedures for your drivers should include:

  • Driver qualifications
  • Licensing requirements
  • Driver responsibilities
  • Accident procedures

The SoPs should go hand-in-hand with the company manual and the organization’s safety policies and procedures.

4. Safety Policies and Procedures

Recruitment documents for employees should include the company’s safety policies and procedures.

It should set clear expectations and should also address policies and procedures for all types of drivers within the organization. This includes casual drivers that may use their vehicles.

It should also set policies for distracted driving, safety restraints, and defensive driving.

Regular review of your organization’s policies and procedures is important. Update them annually and ensure they follow all legal guidelines.

5. Choose the Right Drivers

One of the best ways to ensure a good fleet is to properly screen potential drivers. An effective recruitment process is important as driver turnover can cost an organization approximately $11,500 per driver. Proper recruitment practices can help reduce expenses and operating costs.

Ensure you choose drivers that have the right skills and attitude. Some of the qualities of a good fleet driver include:

  • Punctuality
  • Reliability
  • Alertness
  • General mechanical knowledge
  • Good driving record
  • Excellent vision and hearing
  • Good communication skills

They should be responsible, willing to learn and follow training and company policies and procedures. The company’s objectives and policies should be clearly communicated during their recruitment process.

Screening should include thorough checks of driving records, employment history, and drug testing. You should also investigate any history of violations.

Choosing the right candidates that are a good fit with the organization’s culture can also help improve driver retention.

6. Know Your Fleet

The term “driver” should incorporate all employees that have to operate a vehicle for work-related activities. It does not only apply to employees assigned a company vehicle. It includes employees that use personal or rented vehicles for company business.

Identify all employees who drive on behalf of the organization and ensure that they are familiar with the company’s safety policies and procedures and SoPs.

7. Mandatory Training

Each member of your fleet should have mandatory training that covers safety practices as well as safe and defensive driving. It should reinforce standard driving procedures and outline the safe driving habits that must be followed.

Whether you provide driver training in-house or externally, ensure instructors are reputable and have a record of success in driver safety training.

Include a comprehensive program of both theory and practical training. Drivers should have an opportunity to practice what they have learnt in a simulated environment that can test their defensive driving skills.

Training should reinforce the company’s safety policies and procedures so that they are clearly understood in an effort to reduce potential accidents. It will ensure drivers know exactly what they must do if involved in an accident while driving a company vehicle.

8. Regular Performance Appraisals

Once you have successfully hired and trained your fleet, their performance should be continuously monitored. Track their driving records and discipline or reward them accordingly.

Use safety scorecards to track driver performance. It should include monitoring driver statistics such as speeding, braking, cornering, over-accelerating, and reckless manoeuvers. Implement technologies that can make these easier to track.

Driver scorecards can identify employees that require coaching or need additional training. Regular appraisals also ensure drivers are adhering to all safety guidelines.

9. Performance Recognition

Appraisals present a great opportunity to recognize and reward adherence to good driving habits. You can also use scorecards to track performance and reward drivers that meet and exceed the organization’s safety standards.

It allows your company to encourage a culture of safety and motivates your fleet to sustain your company’s track record. Any employee would be proud to be a part of a company recognized as number one when it comes to safety.

Recognition can be monetary or in-kind, such as extra time off or gift certificates. Either would be a great incentive that employees can work toward. It would increase motivation and assist in minimizing absenteeism.

10. Driver Scheduling

The safety of your drivers is paramount. Schedule them in a way that ensures they are not overworked. They should have enough downtime between trips. Give drivers enough time to safely complete their trips, as well.

Driver scheduling should take into consideration:

  • Driver availability
  • Efficient routing
  • Scheduled vehicle maintenance
  • Vehicle issues
  • Registration and inspection requirements

Optimal scheduling should eliminate unnecessary driving. It should take into consideration any potential delays to improve on-time delivery.

Scheduling should be flexible in the event of unforeseen events. You can avoid scheduling conflicts with proper planning.

11. Vehicle Maintenance

Regular preventative maintenance will allow your company to avoid major repairs and extended downtime of vehicles. Choose quality parts for your fleet vehicles, such as batteries and tires, to avoid damage or constant repairs.

Have inspection of the vehicles done before and after use of the vehicle. It should include checks on:

  • Oil
  • Tire pressure
  • Tire treads
  • Brakes
  • Power steering fluid
  • Wheel alignment
  • Antifreeze or coolant
  • Air filter
  • Transmission fluid
  • All lights (headlights, turn signals, brake and parking lights)

In cooler climates, change tires to suit the conditions or use snow chains, if necessary. Rotate tires regularly. Remember to check smaller, yet important implements such as wiper blades. Don’t wait until they become an issue. Change them regularly.

Keep a maintenance log that the driver must sign off on after each inspection. Drivers should also note any issues or noises they observe while driving the vehicle.

Do more long-term, mechanical checks such as oil and coolant changes and battery performance checks, quarterly.

Remove vehicles with issues from the fleet immediately and have repairs completed by a professional. Test drive vehicles after repair before returning them to the fleet.

12. Incorporate New Technology

Use technology to make monitoring driver performance and vehicles easier.

A fleet telematics system can collect data using a Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. This can provide information including:

  • Vehicle location
  • Vehicle movement and speed
  • Engine diagnostics
  • Driver activity

Harsh braking, aggressive acceleration, and erratic cornering are some of the driving activities that can be tracked. Data on driver behavior can identify where improvements can be made and where targeted training is needed.

Companies reported 42% fewer safety incidents while monitoring driver behavior using fleet tracking.

A telematics system can also provide useful fleet metrics that can help your company:

  • Manage costs more effectively
  • Enhance safety
  • Improve fuel efficiency
  • Improve communications

This can help you improve safety, lower administrative costs, and improve your service to customers.

13. Accident Response Plan

Despite all measures you may put in place, accidents do happen. It is important to have a plan to manage accidents when they occur. It should include processes for:

  • Medical care
  • Accident reporting
  • Accident investigation
  • Communicating the incident
  • Recovery and return
  • Preventative measures

This will guide drivers involved in an accident on how to respond based on your accident response plan. They will report the accident and retain events and any documentation necessary. This will help to lessen your exposure and reduces the potential of future losses.

Protecting Your Drivers

A fleet safety program will ensure your drivers are well-trained and protected. Include these key elements to ensure your program is effective and well-implemented.

Your program will require continuous reinforcement to ensure all employees are compliant and adhere to safety rules and regulations.

Advantage Insurance Solutions can help you reduce the risk to your fleet and business, with the best business insurance coverage. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you.