Takeaway: Keeping fleet safety is key to keeping drivers safe and reducing costs. Here are 5 ways you can optimize your fleet safety program.
Injuries resulting from vehicle accidents are 9th leading cause of injuries in the workplace. These accidents are also costly. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), motor vehicle accidents cost employers $60 billion annually. On average, each crash costs an employer $16,500. These expenses rise to $74,000 if there is an injury and exceed $500,000 if there is a fatality.
Making a well-rounded safety program for your company can reduce risk and increase driver protection. Implementing safety best practices should start from the hiring process. Here are some key elements to include in your fleet safety program.
Safety Training in Onboarding
Your fleet safety program should start with your hiring process. If you begin with a solid driver who knows what they’re doing on the road, your fleet is already moving in the right direction. Consider these steps:
- Prioritize hiring experienced fleet drivers with stellar safety records.
- Ensure your hiring team takes the time to contact references and previous employers and requests specific information about safety records.
- Check out a potential employee’s motor vehicle reports (MVRs).
- Disqualify anyone with serious violations such as driving under the influence (DUI). Look carefully at minor violations if there a more than a few.
- Consider including a road test with the vehicle the applicant will be operating as part of your hiring process.
- Onboard your new drivers with an eye to safe driving practices as well as your protocols for inspections and maintenance.
- Emphasize the need for defensive driving, the dangers of distracted driving and the signs of driver fatigue.
All of these are leading causes of accidents among both commercial and non-commercial drivers. If you’re a Department of Transportation (DOT) monitored company, you will also need to provide DOT-mandated training to your drivers.
Training should also be conducted in policies, reporting, and inspection requirements that are specific to your company. If and when these requirements change, all employees should receive new training.
In addition to onboarding new drivers, your training program should deliver ongoing driver education to your existing drivers. Provide refresher courses in defensive and distracted driving as well as in monitoring driver fatigue. It’s also good practice to include health-related education for your drivers, especially long haulers who may be facing additional health risks.
Establishing clear company policies regarding fleet safety and ensuring they are communicated widely and often to your employees is a critical component of strengthening your fleet safety program. Formally document all of your fleet safety program elements and include responsibilities, expectations, and, of course, consequences. There should also be a framework for evaluating and amending the fleet safety program and benchmarks for assessing what is working and what isn’t. Additionally, these policies can, and should, include the following:
- A mobile device use policy that outlines when and where drivers can use electronic devices in your vehicle.
- Alcohol use and drug use policies, as well as alcohol testing and drug testing procedures, which should adhere to DOT requirements.
- Policies on the use of seat belts, other safety features and the required use of specific fleet safety technologies make it clear that safety is a priority.
- Information about training should also include remedial training and when it may be required.
- Procedures for dealing with vehicle crashes. Who should be called and when? Provide these in a step-by-step format that clearly outlines what drivers should and should not do in the event of a crash.
- Accident and other reporting requirements should include templates for accident and maintenance reporting.
- Vehicle maintenance and inspection procedures should include a safety checklist for drivers to complete before leaving the yard and policies for routine maintenance by a mechanic.
Technology and Driver Protection
Technology for fleet safety management has developed at a rapid pace over the last few years. Investing in these new technologies can keep your drivers safe and secure your assets. While the key priority is to make sure your drivers are well trained and alert on the road, technological advances can help address any areas for human error and increase the overall safety of your fleet.
Maintenance Checks for Vehicles
Simply put, well-maintained vehicles are safe vehicles. Preventative maintenance can save money over the long term by reducing breakdowns and expensive repairs. Have a set schedule in place for light routine maintenance such as oil changes and more comprehensive inspections of the vehicle by a licensed mechanic.
Strictly enforce daily driver inspections of their vehicles. Before they set out, this should include lights, horn, turn signals, brake lights, oil and coolant levels, tire pressure and rear-view mirrors. Regular maintenance should be logged and kept in the vehicle, and drivers should conduct an end-of-day inspection and report any defects immediately.
Accidents happen, but ongoing issues might point to the need for remedial training or even termination. Safety violations should be logged and monitored on an ongoing basis by management. Conversely, though, companies should reward safe drivers. Consider implementing safety bonuses, additional vacation days, updated equipment, or other incentives for your safe drivers.