A fleet safety plan should be a top priority for every commercial fleet. Simply put, this is a plan of policies and practices that encourage your drivers to practice safe behaviors on the road. It helps to protect your fleet from liabilities related to accidents and keeps your employees safe as they go about their jobs.
The truth is, driving is one of the most dangerous activities we participate in on a regular basis. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, about 1.35 million people die in road accidents annually — that’s about 3,700 lives lost each day. Traffic accidents are the most common cause of death for young people aged 5-29 around the world.
Your fleet drivers are exposed to this level of risk for up to 60 hours per week, making their chances of an accident much higher than the average person. Fortunately, the commercial fleet industry has rigorous safety regulations and requirements in place to help protect drivers on the road.
These regulations also protect your company, since accidents are incredibly costly to fleet businesses. The average cost to a fleet for a single accident is $74,000. If there’s a fatality involved, in addition to the human cost, the price can be more than $500,000. In fact, road accidents account for $60 billion in employer costs annually.
When a commercial driver is in an accident, there are a number of expenses involved. Depending on the situation these may include any or all of the following:
- Property damage
- Lost goods
- Lost customers
- Worsened CSA scores
- Employee compensation
- Higher insurance premiums
- More frequent inspections
Given all of this, it’s vital that your fleet should develop and implement a solid safety plan.
Key Elements of Any Fleet Safety Plan
Details may vary from state to state, industry to industry, and company to company, but there are a few key safety elements that should be part of any fleet safety plan.
Before anything else, it’s important to establish a specific driver policy for company vehicles and guidelines for fleet safety. You’ll want these to be clear and precise, but also fair and easy to follow. Include rules about wearing a seat belt, using a cell phone, and other distractions on the road.
You’ll also need to ensure your drivers understand any compliance requirements that will be their responsibility. Your fleet safety program template should include details about HOS reporting and information on DVIR practices.
If you want to have a safe fleet, you’ll need to hire the right drivers. While those with a bad record can improve, there’s no guarantee that they will. Starting out with drivers who have safe records allows you to build a safe team and an overall culture of safety within your fleet.
Before you hand over the keys to any of your fleet vehicles, make sure you check the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program . This will give you information about any accidents or infractions involving a specific driver. You’ll see the last five years of crash history and three years of inspections. This should give you a small snapshot of how safe a driver is on the road.
Next comes driver training. It’s tempting to just assume your new hires have been taught defensive driving techniques and rush them through the training program, but this is a missed opportunity. Instead, train each driver you hire with the same set of standards you’d use for someone who has never driven for a commercial fleet before. This way you can be sure everyone starts off well.
Set safety standards for your drivers and then use telematics data to make sure they’re hitting the mark. Continue safety training at standard intervals throughout each driver’s employment with your fleet to ensure safety information is always fresh in their minds. Provide your drivers with training materials that can be accessed whenever they have a question. And work to identify areas where each driver could improve their on-road safety performance.
Ongoing Driver Management
Any good safety program should be an ongoing process, not a one-time meeting or training session. Once you’ve set guidelines and trained your drivers so they know what is expected, you have to monitor them to ensure they’re following through.
There can be a delicate balance between trust and monitoring. You want drivers to feel that you trust them and that you have their backs. But you also need to ensure that they’re taking the fleet’s safety policies seriously on the road. It’s good practice to be open and honest with your drivers about your monitoring.
A good way to create a culture of safety is to offer a safety rewards program. By creating a healthy competition between drivers to be the safest on the road, you can ensure that safety remains at the forefront of your fleet’s operations.
A rewards program is also an effective way to get drivers on board who might otherwise be distrustful of driver monitoring. Instead of looking at your driver tracking software as a way of catching them doing something wrong, it becomes a way to recognize drivers who do things right.
Accident Management Procedures
No matter how much you stress and encourage safety within your fleet, you’re probably going to have to deal with accidents from time to time. A solid safety plan should cut down on the number, but it’s still important that your drivers know what to do if they are in an accident. This should include details about fleet safety equipment such as dashcams and monitoring software as well as claims processes and insurance information.
Any time an accident happens, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to improve this process. After the situation has been dealt with, review your policies and procedure to see if there are any improvements to be made. This way your accident management will get easier and more thorough over time.
Finally, you’ll want to include details on vehicle management, even if these are not entirely the responsibility of your drivers. They should understand your fleet’s procedures for dispatch, downtime, inspections, and maintenance. Drivers should know what to do in the event of a breakdown. They should also understand what parts of vehicle management are driver responsibilities and which are handled by other parts of your fleet team.
You’ll want to ensure that your fleet vehicles are as safe as possible, with proper maintenance procedures in place. Ensure that any engine diagnostic codes are addressed efficiently. Schedule routine maintenance so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside. And ensure that your telematics solution also includes detailed data on predictive maintenance so you can address small problems before they grow bigger.
How Azuga Technologies Help Build a Solid Safety Plan
When you’re building a safety plan, it’s important to have the right technology in place. A good fleet management system that includes telematics, dashcams, and GPS tracking can be a valuable partner in your safety efforts.
Azuga’s tracking software and addons are designed with driver safety in mind. We can monitor engine diagnostics, tell you where your vehicles are at any given time, schedule maintenance tasks, monitor driver behaviors, block cell phone distractions on the road, ensure ELD mandate compliance, and so much more.
If you’re looking for a way to improve the safety of your fleet, consider Azuga as your technology solution. Contact us today to find out how we can help.