As a fleet manager, you probably realize the importance of safety for your commercial motor vehicle drivers. It’s estimated that motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually. This includes the costs of medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. But more than the dollars involved, the human costs cannot be overestimated. Driving work is dangerous, no matter how careful your drivers are. It’s vital that you protect your drivers as they go about their daily jobs, as well as consider the safety of other drivers who share the road.
One of the best ways to promote a culture of safety within your fleet is to develop a safe driving program. This offers fleet management a way of formalizing expectations for your drivers as they go about their daily business. We’ll explore why a safety policy is important and what it should include.
Why You Should Have a Safe Driving Policy
If your intention is to put safety first in your organization, it’s important to make that known to your employees. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to develop a safe driving policy. This can be a simple set of guidelines, or a comprehensive training and evaluation program, or anything in between. The important part is that you clearly lay out expectations for safety on the roads.
It has been well documented that driver safety policies are beneficial and success stories abound. Here are a few examples.
- Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, OH implemented a 10-step safety program in 1998. Since then, preventable crashes are down 53 percent and total motor vehicle loss costs are down 40 percent.
- In Michigan, Charter Communications began its program with a seatbelt policy in 2001. They have since added a defensive driving program for employees and they now take part in several national safety initiatives. Since their program began, they’ve seen a 20 percent rise in seatbelt use and a 30 percent decrease in crashes.
- General Motors Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of motor vehicles, started their current safe driver program in 1998. They credit this program with saving 5 lives a year.
If you’re still wondering why a formal driver safety program is needed, consider this. These programs save lives and reduce the risk of injuries to your drivers and others on the road. They’re an excellent way to safeguard your company’s resources and reputation. And they also help reduce your risk exposure, both professionally and personally.
How to Develop a Safe Driving Policy
So now you know why you should have a safe driver policy in place, but perhaps you’re wondering where to start with implementing such a policy. Don’t worry, a safety plan can start off simply, and then grow with time, or it can be as complex as you wish.
Here are a few important factors to consider when developing your CMV driver safety plan:
- In order to achieve maximum buy-in, try to get everyone in your organization involved. This means you’ll want the commitment of senior fleet management as well as the involvement of drivers and other fleet employees throughout the development process.
- Just holding a quick meeting where you instruct drivers to be safe on the road will not be enough. It’s vital to have written policies and procedures included. This way, future employees will have the same resources available, and there will be a safe driving policy for employees to refer to when they’re unsure. It also gives you something to refer back to should employee discipline be needed.
- When implementing your company driver safety policy, get signed driver agreements from each driver in your fleet. Be sure to also get these from any future hires. The agreement should verify that the drivers understand and agree to abide by the safety policies and procedures you’ve outlined.
- On the back end, motor vehicle record (MVR) checks should be conducted periodically to ensure your drivers are safe on the road and not in danger of becoming a liability.
- No matter how safe your fleet’s driving behaviors are, some accidents cannot be avoided. Fully outline policies for crash reporting and investigations so that your CMV drivers know what to do in such a situation.
- Part of your safety policy should take into account vehicle selection, maintenance, and inspection. Select vehicles that include advanced driver safety features. Remember, a poorly maintained vehicle can cause accidents just as easily as a distracted driver. It is the fleet manager’s responsibility to ensure that drivers are given access to safe and well-maintained vehicles.
- Drivers’ safety training and regular communication with your drivers are key. You shouldn’t expect them to implement behaviors that have not been adequately communicated. And you shouldn’t hold them responsible for policies on which they haven’t been trained. Azuga’s Fleet Safety and Training Programs are an excellent way to get the ball rolling.
- Outline disciplinary actions that will be taken in the event of a breach of safe driver policies. Remember to be strict, but fair when dealing with unsafe driving behaviors.
- On the flip side, for good driver morale, rewards and incentives for good behavior should be offered. One option is to implement a driver safety rewards program, offering your safest drivers gift cards or other perks for their performance. Use a telematics safety program such as Azuga Fleet to help you evaluate driver safety on the road.
- Finally, be sure to review any regulatory compliance that is related to your fleet’s safety. Outline the steps you will take to achieve compliance, as well as what is expected from your drivers and others in your organization.
Safety Rules to Include
Once you have the broad outline of your company driving policy in place, it’s time to get into the details. You’ll want to include a number of actionable items for your drivers that are both clearly written and easy to implement. Here are some suggestions of topics you might want to touch on:
- Seat belts
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Aggressive driving behaviors to avoid
- How to adjust driving behaviors to fit road conditions
- How to secure materials for transport
Your employees are one of your company’s most valuable assets. Keep your drivers safe on the road with a comprehensive driver safety program. Want to evaluate how Azuga can help you implement and administer such a program? Contact us for a demo today.