In 2017, there was an average of 102 deaths due to vehicle accidents every single day. There were around 7,523 injuries per day that same year. For fleets, the risk is much higher, since fleet drivers spend upwards of 60 hours on the road each week. Greater risk for drivers means a greater risk for fleet companies. Accidents may cost lives, but they always cost money. The average cost of fleet vehicle accidents is around $70,000. These costs rise exponentially with injuries, fatalities, and lawsuits. Then there is the toll an accident takes on your CSA score, your reputation, and your bottom line.
By creating and integrating a fleet risk management safety plan, you can save lives, prevent injuries, and limit your liability. Learn how to build a fleet vehicle safety checklist and policy below.
Step One: Assessing Risks to Your Fleet
Assessing the risks to your fleet should be the first step in developing a fleet safety plan. In large, most of the risks your drivers face are external—other drivers to be exact. But there are several other factors you need to assess to know which approach to take to lower risk and liability for your fleet and drivers. The most common risks include:
Substance abuse: Either by your own drivers or by others on the road. Substance abuse contributes to 30% of all accident fatalities.
Distracted driving: There are three types of distractions on the road—visual, manual, and cognitive. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to avoid all distractions at all times, especially when drivers are on the road for long periods of time.
Drowsiness: Around 90,000 accidents each year occur due to drowsiness while driving. Hours of service regulations attempt to resolve this issue in fleets by limiting drive time per day and week. The ELD mandate enforces these regulations with electronic logging of hours.
Aggressive driving: This includes behaviors such as speeding, hard braking, harsh cornering, rapid acceleration, and more. In 2016, around 10,000 people lost their lives due to speeding-related accidents.
Step Two: Create A Fleet Safety Policy
Creating a fleet safety policy or procedure requires communication with all departments. You must know how these changes affect these departments and the individuals involved. Of course, the goal is safety, but any policy that isn’t well-communicated isn’t going to be well received. Changes can be difficult, and it will fail without acceptance by all parties. If they’re implemented correctly, they’ll serve their intended purpose.
To create a policy that works, you need the following key elements:
Driver Selection Controls: One of the most effective and simplest ways to reduce your fleet’s risk is to be more selective when hiring. HIre drivers with good driving records and up-to-date licenses. Have reasonable expectations, but hire with the risks in mind.
Traffic Regulation Compliance: Establish following distance policies and accident investigation procedures. You should also set restrictions on cell phones, texting, unauthorized use, and poor weather procedures.
Driver Behavior Monitoring: Monitor your drivers for speeding, braking, and other behavior helps to reduce risk and costs. This also helps to improve training by customizing it to the drivers’ needs.
Establish Funding for Safety: Staying on budget is always a top concern for fleet companies. Setting a budget for fleet safety from the beginning is a great way to ensure safety remains a priority.
Anticipate External Risks: If your fleet operates in an area that regularly experiences hurricanes, tornadoes, or other natural disasters, anticipate the risks in your safety planning. Have an emergency plan in place, lock-down procedures, downtime mitigation, etc.
Implement Fleet Risk Management Software: Telematics systems help reduce risks and costs by monitoring your fleet in real-time. It provides performance reports, fuel consumption monitoring, and maintenance scheduling to help you stay on top of fleet safety.
Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Planning: Incorporating maintenance into your safety planning is essential. Preventive maintenance helps to mitigate risks by keeping vehicles fully operational. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) requires fleet companies to store 3 months of daily vehicle inspection reports (DVIR). These inspection reports help to ensure your vehicles are operating properly, for the safety of your drivers and others on the road. But these reports also keep you compliant. Both factors make them important aspects of any fleet driver safety program.
Building a Fleet Safety Checklist
Having a safety checklist helps to ensure you remain compliant with regulations and all safety procedures are met. Here’s what you need in your fleet vehicle safety checklist:
- Enforce mandatory seat belts
- Keep workers on regular hours when possible
- Eliminate the need for phone use for work purposes
- Establish vehicle maintenance program
- Train workers on how to recognize and manage fatigue and distractions
- Ensure licenses are up to date
- Maintain accurate records
- Set accident recording procedures
Implementing Fleet Management Safety Policies
Creating a fleet vehicle and driver safety policy isn’t just about assessing the risks and writing up the rules. It’s about how you implement them. If you’re not compliant, your safety program isn’t succeeding. To ensure compliance from all areas of your organization, start from the top and work down. Do your research and assess your fleet’s risks. Calculate the costs and rates of accidents within your company and compare it to others, then approach stakeholders. Once the board and stakeholders approve the program, approach maintenance technicians, drivers, and administrators.
Don’t use slogans like “buckle up, save lives”. Instead, communicate expectations and answer questions. Changes are jarring, and applying these changes all at once makes it even harder to adjust. Consider implementing incremental changes to allow them time to adapt and grasp the advantages of the new system.
To ensure compliance, integrate telematics systems into your safety planning. Safety planning requires the right tools. Fleet tracking systems help you collect real-time data about your fleet to assess risks and make changes that improve safety. Telematics devices monitor driver location and behavior, which helps you make modifications to reduce their accident risk. You’ll also be able to monitor idle time and utilization to improve productivity. Route optimization and fuel consumption monitoring help reduce costs and speed up delivery times. Engine data, maintenance scheduling, alerts, and electronic DVIR creation and storage help you remain compliant, safe, and ensures your vehicles are running efficiently.
Telematics helps your fleet remain safe, compliant, and efficient. But that’s not all it can do. Learn more about how telematics can improve your fleet at Azuga.