Even if you have the latest fleet management software and other safety devices at your disposal, it’s important that your team receives safe driver training on a regular basis.
Most drivers have demonstrated they can drive safely in order to acquire their commercial driver’s license.
However, without structure and leadership, drivers may cut corners, especially amidst the bustle of a long business day. As drivers focus on meeting deadlines, attending appointments, dropping off items, cleaning their vehicles, and completing other tasks, safety measures can fall by the wayside. We’ll discuss the importance of developing a culture of driver safety and provide practical tips to improve your fleet.
Why Fleet Safety is Important
It’s no secret that fleet safety is important; protecting your team, clients, and the outside world is a key element of sustaining your business. Cultivating a culture of safety helps to set the standard for all drivers, especially new drivers, and holds everyone accountable to meet expectations. Here’s why fleet safety is important.
Reduce accidents and fatal injuries
According to a news release published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the largest number of fatalities at 831 in 2017. From the year 2016 to 2017, 4,761 people were killed in accidents that involved large trucks.
Sometimes crashes can be prevented by better technology or vehicle maintenance. However, driver negligence plays a crucial role in accident prevention, and taking steps to improve your team’s driving behaviors is crucial.
Creating and maintaining a culture of safety mitigates the risk of accidents. For example, 23% of commercial vehicle accidents are caused by the driver traveling too fast based on the conditions. And 13% of the time, it’s due to fatigue, while 9% of the time it comes from inattention.
Keeps Drivers and Company Reputation in Good Standing
Reputation is extremely important in the transportation industry. One public incident can deter customers away from using your services. Incorporating a fleet safety program instills confidence in your clients that your team takes safety seriously.
Nobody wants to do business with a transportation company with a history of crashes, property damage, or injury. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can also penalize drivers with a poor track record.
Improving your team’s safety measures can improve brand reputation, helping you secure business for years to come.
Tips to Improve Culture for Fleet Driver Safety
Creating a safety culture is crucial to preventing accidents, reducing unnecessary insurance costs, and building a trusted reputation among your clients. Here are some tips to help you encourage safe driving behaviors:
Recognize Outstanding Safety Accomplishments
It may seem excessive to reward safe driving since it’s technically a part of the job. It’s not necessary to reward drivers that avoid accidents or citations on a daily basis. However, you can recognize your drivers for having a year’s worth of clean record, or for frequently passing random inspection checkpoints. This helps build a culture of safety. Recognition can be celebrated in many ways, such as:
- Commendation from senior executives or the CEO
- Monetary or other awards like gifts, custom plaque, suspension of personal use charges, etc.
- A feature in the company newsletter or email recognition
- Consideration for promotions
- Press release to local news outlets
These are just a handful of ways to reward and recognize exemplary safety records. It’s a way for drivers to know that poor safety habits will be scrutinized and that safe driving is part of corporate culture.
Use Measurements to Track Safety
While it’s important to set your team up for safety from the start, measuring their safety efforts on an ongoing basis is key. To promote a culture of safe driving, your company should measure all drivers’ safety performance. For instance, track how many fleet drivers arrive back to their station with their seat belts buckled and publish the results daily on your employee dashboard. Here are a few other statistics that you can measure related to driver safety:
- MVR records: The percentage of drivers that have a clean MVR record or those without citations for the year
- Accident ratio: The ratio of accidents per million miles driven
- Average accident cost: Demonstration of the total cost of accidents, which include injuries, vehicle damage, ancillary costs, insurance, and liability
- Number of traffic violations: Show the number of traffic violations each fleet or member has incurred along with the costs and reasoning for each violation
All drivers should be aware of your company’s costs when safety protocols are violated. Managers should go over these statistics with their drivers and they should be published in a company dashboard or portal to build safety consciousness.
Communicate Safety to Your Company,
When it comes to building a culture of safe driving, it all rests on communication. There are a few ways that fleet managers can communicate the importance of safety to their fleet drivers:
- Have a monthly or quarterly safety session, and try to mention safety at least once during each meeting
- Include a safety slogan in your email signature
- Go over key safety statistics in company-wide email communication
- Emphasize safety to all drivers in newsletters
- Issue contests with prizes to reward drivers with no chargeable accidents, no violations, etc.
The key is to remind your fleet drivers continuously about the importance of safety and use different strategies to convey the message. Communication helps to bring daily awareness to safety so it’s ingrained in your team on an ongoing basis.
Implement a Fleet Policy
Having a formal fleet policy helps to foster a culture of safe driving. Here are a few policies that you should consider incorporating:
- Safe driver training
- MVR review: both existing and new drivers
- Seat belt policy
- Personal use allowances and limits
- An accident review committee to review who is at fault
For instance, with a seat belt policy, every driver and passenger must buckle up before moving. There should also be clear consequences for not abiding by these policies that are universally applied.
Offer Driver Safety Training
After hiring a new driver, ask them to complete a safety training as soon as possible. Drivers who have been penalized twice a year for high-risk behavior or have a poor driving record should be provided with corrective training.
Training should cover topics including:
- Safe following distance
- Wearing a seat belt
- Driving in poor weather conditions
- Driving in poor road conditions
- Following the speed limit
- Handling blind spots
- General highway safety
Fleet managers should set clear expectations by utilizing driver performance metrics that are analyzed during employee evaluations.
When it comes to building a culture of safety, fleet managers must communicate expectations to their team and hold drivers accountable.
Azuga can help you develop a culture of driver safety. This downloadable guide offers strategies to help enforce safety and hold your team members accountable. Once these systems are in place, you should see a significant improvement in your fleet’s safety statistics.