Whether you have a child care, outreach, service provider, or substance disorder program, you rely on vehicles to get clients to and from appointments, their homes, and events. In my experience, an auto accident is the most likely part of your operation to possibly result in a multi-million-dollar claim. For that reason alone, having a solid fleet safety program is essential. Let’s examine the “Why” behind a fleet safety program, the elements that should be included, and how to create and maintain a successful program.
Understanding the Importance of a Fleet Safety Program
A fleet safety program is necessary for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps protect the lives and well-being of your drivers, passengers, and other people on the road. Vehicle accidents can result in serious injuries, fatalities, and financial liabilities. A comprehensive safety program is crucial to minimize these risks.
However, the importance of a fleet safety program goes beyond just ensuring the safety of individuals. It also has a significant impact on your business operations. By investing in fleet safety, you can reap numerous benefits that directly contribute to the success of your organization.
A Safer Fleet = More Productivity
Investing in fleet safety protects lives and impacts your business operations. You can avoid vehicle downtime, minimize repair costs, and lower insurance premiums by reducing accidents and injuries. A safer fleet also improves productivity by reducing the number of lost workdays due to injuries and accidents.
Think of it this way: you have a fleet of ten vehicles. You average three accidents a year. That means you are renting a replacement vehicle, rearranging routes, and communicating with adjusters, lawyers, and body shops three times a year.
A robust fleet safety program can significantly reduce accidents and vehicle downtime and allow your fleet to operate efficiently. You can direct the saved time and resources toward other critical aspects of your business, such as expanding operations or improving customer service.
Of course, a safer fleet translates into lower insurance premiums as well. Underwriters pay attention to an organization’s vehicle safety practices. By demonstrating a commitment to fleet safety, you can negotiate lower insurance rates, leading to substantial cost savings in the long run.
Moreover, fleet safety programs enhance driver morale. When drivers feel safe and supported, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. Employees that feel safe are more likely to stay with the organization, reducing costs associated with employee turnover.
What to Include In Your Fleet Safety Program
Let’s explore some key elements to include in a comprehensive fleet safety program:
Driver selection and training
There’s a saying, “To run an excellent organization, you need the right people in the right seat on the bus.” That word picture is oddly appropriate for driver selection. Carefully selecting and training your drivers is one of the most important aspects of a fleet safety program.
You’ll need to implement a thorough screening process that includes background checks, driving record assessments, and drug testing. These checks will help you identify potential red flags indicating a driver’s unsuitability for the job.
However, selecting the proper drivers is just the first step. You must also implement comprehensive training on safe driving habits and defensive driving techniques. This training should cover road safety, accident prevention, and emergency procedures.
Vehicle maintenance and inspections
Regular vehicle maintenance and inspections are vital for fleet safety.
A proactive maintenance schedule should include frequent oil changes, tire rotations, and engine tune-ups. By adhering to a maintenance schedule, you can identify and rectify mechanical problems before they escalate into significant issues.
Frequent inspections ensure your vehicles are in optimal working condition. Inspections should cover various aspects of the vehicle, including tire pressure, brakes, lights, and other safety features. These inspections allow you to catch faulty equipment before the car leaves your parking lot.
Safety policies and procedures
Comprehensive safety policies should include guidelines on seatbelt usage, mobile device use, speeding, and impaired driving. By clearly communicating these policies to your drivers, you can ensure that they are aware of the standards expected of them.
Remember, the rules you put in place are only as strong as your enforcement. Consistently enforcing the safety policies and procedures demonstrates the organization’s commitment to safety. Regular reminders and refresher training sessions help foster a safe driving culture within your fleet.
By implementing these essential elements, organizations can create a safe driving environment, minimize the risk of accidents, and protect their drivers and reputation.
Steps to Create a Fleet Safety Program
What Is Your Current Situation?
Before you can create a new program, start by identifying areas that need improvement in your current one. Review your accident records, maintenance history, and driver performance to determine your fleet’s needs and challenges. This assessment will serve as a foundation for developing targeted safety initiatives.
Create A Comprehensive Safety Policy
Based on your assessment, develop a safety policy that addresses your fleet’s specific risks and challenges. Include clear guidelines on driver conduct, vehicle maintenance, and accident reporting. Emphasize the importance of a safety-first mindset and foster a culture of accountability and responsibility. Consult your insurance broker if you need a sample; they often have examples available.
Train Your Employees
Training is a crucial component of any fleet safety program. Provide drivers with ongoing safety training to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate various driving situations. This training should cover defensive driving techniques, hazard recognition, and emergency response procedures. Many insurance companies offer free online videos if you need assistance creating a training course.
Create A Maintenance Schedule
Develop a vehicle maintenance schedule that outlines regular inspections, servicing, and repairs for each piece of your fleet. Ensure drivers know the importance of reporting any vehicle issues promptly. Implement a system for documenting maintenance activities and tracking vehicle service records. Regularly review the maintenance schedule to optimize efficiency and reduce the likelihood of breakdowns or accidents caused by mechanical failures.
Monitoring and Improving Your Fleet Safety Program
Keep It Up To Date
A fleet safety program is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. Regularly review and update your safety policies to reflect any changes in regulations or industry best practices. Consider reviewing incidents, accidents, and other key performance indicators. Make sure to solicit feedback from your drivers and encourage their active involvement in improving the fleet safety culture.
Get A Little Techy
Technology is improving rapidly and can be crucial in fleet safety management. Telematic systems are GPS systems that track vehicle performance, driver behavior, and compliance with safety policies. These systems can also provide real-time alerts for speeding, harsh braking, and other unsafe driving habits. Using telematics in your fleet, you can monitor routes, optimize driver assignments, and respond to emergencies more efficiently.
Listen To Your Employees
Your drivers are on the front line of your fleet operations and often have valuable insights and suggestions for improving safety. Encourage open communication and create channels for drivers to provide feedback on safety policies and procedures. Implement a reward and recognition program to motivate drivers and foster a team-oriented approach to safety.
A fleet safety program has many benefits beyond reducing insurance premiums. It helps retain employees, improve customer experience, and improve profitability for the organization. Even if your organization measures your impact by changing lives more than profit margins, a fleet safety program can profoundly impact your organization’s overall effectiveness. Invest the time and resources to develop and maintain a robust fleet safety program, and you will enjoy the long-term benefits of a safer and more successful fleet.