Regardless of the size of your company’s fleet, it’s important to have comprehensive fleet policies and procedures in place. With a solid fleet policy, you will create a clear picture of what is expected as well as define the consequences of not following the policy.
A thorough fleet policy should always center on the end goal — safety, but it should cover several different areas, including:
- Vehicle assignment
- Driver eligibility
- Consequences for moving violations, parking tickets, etc.
- Procedures for crash and risk management
- Required preventative maintenance
- Repair procedures
- Personal use
- Vehicle registration and marking
- Environmental issues, including emissions restrictions
- Safety requirements (seat belt and cell phone use, etc.)
- Employer liability
In some cases, you may be developing company policy “from scratch,” or you may be updating existing, outdated policies. Whichever the case, here are five best practices for creating effective fleet policies and procedures.
1. Do your research
Start by reaching out to other fleet managers in your industry to learn what their policies include. Ask what they’ve learned by implementing their own policies — and then see how your policy can benefit from their input. Also, use online resources or books from agencies such as the National Association of Fleet Administrators.
Gather as much information from other policies as you think you’ll need. You don’t have to use it all, but you can save time and improve upon your policy by borrowing from what others have already done.
2. Ask for input
As you start creating an outline of what needs to be covered in your fleet policy, talk to as many people within your company as possible. Invite input and support from other departments, especially since it will affect all employees — including executive management.
Getting input from other departments not only ensures that the policy covers all situations and concerns, but also will help get buy-in and participation from each department. Understanding their specific concerns, challenges and opinions can help you craft a more comprehensive policy. By the end of this process, you should have a lengthy overview of what to include.
3. Narrow it down and write it out
Taking all of this input into consideration, and gaining a comprehensive understanding of what is needed, create a detailed outline. With a framework in place, you can start looking at what information is most necessary, what needs to be clarified and what existing procedures to eliminate entirely. You want the policy to be comprehensive but not repetitive, and you also want it to be easy to understand.
Be sure to use simple language that is easy to follow and spells out what consequences will result from failing to comply with the policy. Write the policy with the end-user (driver) in mind and avoid using industry jargon, which can be confusing or misleading.
4. Allow time for review
Before your policy is ready to be implemented, it will need to be reviewed carefully. Begin by having an attorney (or your legal department) carefully review it to ensure that there aren’t any potential legal issues. Once it has passed legal review, ask supervisors, managers and, where applicable, union officials to review the policy. Address any concerns they raise to help ensure that you have greater participation and support when the time comes to implement the policy.
As a final step, ask for help from a colleague to proofread the entire policy before submitting it to senior management for approval.
5. Distribute and implement the policy
No matter how good your fleet policies and procedures are, they won’t be effective unless you’re able to implement them properly. Make sure you have received all the proper approvals required by your company, and compile a list of every employee that needs to be informed about the policy. This can include, but might not be limited to, drivers, human resources personnel, senior managers, legal and risk management.
Decide on the best method to distribute your policy; will it be printed? Available on your company’s intranet? Delivered as a PDF by email? Create a plan for letting employees know about the new policy, and work with department heads to develop a way to acknowledge that employees have received, read and understand the policy. This could mean including a form for them to sign and return to their supervisor.
Planning for the Future
Some questions may arise that aren’t addressed in your new fleet policy, so always make sure that your policy includes information on who employees should contact if they have ongoing questions. It’s also advisable to have a plan in place for updating the policy as needed, allowing you to keep pace with the changing landscape of transportation.
Compliant drivers play a key role in your company’s success. An up-to-date, specific fleet policy will help you create a culture of compliant drivers who know what is expected of them and ensures that you have a system in place to help them handle whatever challenges they face.
Once you have fleet policy and procedures in place, make sure your drivers are maintaining compliance using advanced telematics. The Smith360™ driver management program offers driver monitoring, analysis, reporting and more.