For organizations that operate vehicle fleets, it’s important to have a formal, effective safety program. It establishes the policies and procedures that are needed to ensure a safe work environment for your employees. It can also help protect against liability for vehicle accidents – a significant exposure for most fleets – and helps control accident costs.
To be effective, a formal fleet safety program should address a range of activities related to employee selection, management
and training; vehicle operation; maintenance; and accident management. Although not every fleet is the same, here are some
key components and best practices your program should include:
Management’s commitment and willingness to support the program is essential. Management decides what type of organizational structure is needed to oversee safety. It also ensures that safety is a priority and that policies and procedures are consistently followed. Managers are instrumental in overseeing the program and monitoring results.
They should have the authority to enforce safety policies and make adjustments to address emerging safety issues
and accident trends.
Employee screening and selection
Your employees are the key to having a successful fleet safety program. Whether they drive every day or only occasionally, without experienced and safe employees, no organization is likely to have a good long-term safety record. Hiring standards should set minimum experience and safe driving record requirements. Evaluating motor vehicle records to verify the applicant’s driving record and license status is a priority.
Managing driving performance
Monitoring performance is important to verify that drivers are following fleet safety rules and driving safely. Because
drivers are generally not in a place where their performance can be easily observed, performance must be assessed through other means. This should include reviewing motor vehicle reports (MVRs), along with any accidents, incidents
or safety policy violations, at least annually. Where available, vehicle performance data from engine computers or telematics devices (e.g., speed, aggressive acceleration, and hard braking/cornering) can be used to understand how employees are driving and how to coach them to be safer drivers.
Training is needed to ensure all employees understand safety policies and procedures. It also helps to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to operate vehicles safely. Training sessions provide an opportunity for organizations to stress safety priorities and raise awareness about accident trends. Safety training is appropriate during orientation, during periodic group meetings and after accidents or safety violations.
Employees need to know how to respond after an accident. They also need the right tools to document what happened and who to contact to report the accident. Investigating accidents is essential to identifying the root cause and determine how to prevent reoccurrences.
Written policies and procedures
Formal safety policies and procedures set clear expectations about a wide range of driver- and vehicle-related activities, such as safe driving expectations, mobile device use, accident response and seat belt use.
Vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance
Formal inspection and maintenance procedures should be in place to ensure all vehicles and equipment are in safe operating condition. These procedures may vary depending on vehicle type and use, but they should at least match manufacturer recommendations.
A fleet safety program should evolve over time, adjusting to changes and loss exposures. For example, if non-owned vehicle use poses a risk, steps should be taken to control that exposure. If distraction-related claims are a problem, it might be time to review your organization’s approach to controlling distracted driving. Through a continuous improvement process, managers should establish benchmarks for safety performance. Goals should be set to improve on past performance. A continuous improvement process should be at work that includes auditing your program periodically and measuring its effectiveness. When exposures change and safety challenges emerge, new policies, procedures and controls should be implemented.