No other topic is as important to driver safety professionals as fleet driver safety. With an estimated average of 20% of fleet vehicles involved in crashes each year, the importance of proper hiring, training and maintenance cannot be downplayed.
An experienced fleet safety management team understands the ROI of a fleet safety program; it can save both lives and money as well as build a reputation for excellence within your industry.
To create that standard, set goals and implement policies that support your safety goals. Here are three goals for an experienced fleet safety management team.
Goal #1: A Committed Crew of Safety-Minded Drivers
Building a top-notch team of drivers who are committed to your high standards is key to maintaining safety. This begins in the hiring process and continues by paying close attention to the habits and records of the drivers you bring on board.
Pre-screening and core screening processes help you make the right hires; these will reveal important candidate information such as employment history, motor vehicle reports (MVRs), history of drug and alcohol violations and criminal background.
However, to ensure the long-term safety of your fleet — and the reputation of your company — the screening process shouldn’t end there.
Ongoing screening processes will prevent any incidents from slipping through the cracks unnoticed, and that can alert you to potential problems with a driver as well as prevent costly crashes and lawsuits.
As part of your ongoing screening process, you can implement the following procedures:
- Random drug and alcohol testing
- Monthly MVR monitoring
- Required drug testing after crashes
- Periodic reviews of all driving records
- Required annual physical exams
Implementing an advanced telematics program is one more way to reinforce your commitment to safety; this can tell you important information about each driver’s habits behind the wheel and can help you correct behaviors that may be unsafe.
Using a vehicle decal program is an effective way to improve driver behavior, increase accountability and gather feedback every time your drivers get behind the wheel.
Together, these practices do more than just decrease the odds of crashes among your fleet drivers. They also reinforce the mindset that you are committed to a culture of responsibility and safety behind the wheel.
Goal #2: An Above-Average Inspection Process
Obviously, inspecting and maintaining your fleet is important to the overall safety and well-being of your company. Developing and enforcing a formalized inspection program will help you to troubleshoot potential problems and keep your vehicles properly maintained, which can reduce the number of crashes and breakdowns in your fleet.
To create an above-average inspection process, go beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations for inspection and maintenance. Having a required daily, weekly and monthly inspection process, and making it part of the drivers’ routines, boosts your odds of greater safety. This can be incorporated into the drivers’ training so that it becomes an expected part of their daily tasks.
For example, before getting in their vehicles, make sure that each driver does a walk-around inspection to ensure that the tires are properly inflated, the tire treads are in good shape and there’s nothing visibly out of place with the vehicle.
Make sure the windows are clean inside and out, the windshield wipers and fluid are functioning properly and seat belts are in good working order. Consider implementing a daily inspection checklist, either via an app or on paper, that can be accessed by drivers, mechanics and safety managers.
You can set the bar for safety high with an above-average inspection process, and the payoffs will come with fewer breakdowns and crashes.
Goal #3: A World-Class Training Program
Your drivers are only as good as the training they receive. No matter how much you emphasize safety, without the proper tools and training, they simply will not have the skills needed to offset all the challenges faced on the road every day.
According to Automotive Fleet magazine, driver training and safety awareness continue to be the most important elements in reducing fleet crashes. In some cases, companies have relaxed their training programs as advanced technology provides more ways to warn drivers about hazards around them. But technology has not shown the same effectiveness in reducing crashes as driver safety training.
Behind-the-wheel training can help drivers learn how to reduce the likelihood of crashes and also help keep them more engaged while on the road. It can help increase their knowledge of the growing dangers of distracted driving and educate them on how to better manage those challenges both within their own vehicle and with the cars on the road around them.
Learning to drive using The Smith5Keys® principles is a proven way to increase driver awareness and engagement and to reduce unsafe driving habits that lead to crashes. Our training solutions are designed to address real-world driving challenges and provide drivers with the tools they need to meet those demands.