For businesses of all sizes, fleet vehicle accidents can result in costly injury claims. According to Automotive Fleet Magazine, the annual accident rate for commercial fleets hit 20%. And the average cost of a loss related to fleet vehicle accidents is approximately $70,000—almost twice the cost of the average workplace injury. Ultimately, collisions cause a loss of productivity and revenue. They also expose you to liability claims when your employee is at fault. That’s where a vehicle fleet safety program comes in.
A formal fleet safety program can provide several advantages, including added safety, improved driver retention, and the potential to increase fleet efficiency. Here are ten must-have fleet safety program elements to get you started.
Commitment from management
Securing commitment at the highest levels is essential. A successful vehicle fleet safety program starts with top executives prioritizing specific efforts and getting the necessary resources. Assigning the responsibility of fleet safety to a single point of contact also helps to ensure internal accountability. This is often the role of a fleet safety manager.
Written policies and procedures
Demonstrate that accident prevention is a top priority for your company by developing a written fleet safety policy. The guidelines should be approved by your top executives and shared with all drivers. Once drivers receive the information, they should acknowledge their agreement in writing. This approach will also help defend your fleet safety process should you need to enter into legal proceedings.
Driver recruitment and screening process
Safe drivers benefit your bottom line. That’s why establishing a driver recruitment and screening process is one of the most important fleet safety program elements. Some important points to consider when hiring and screening drivers include:
- Verifying driver certification
- Conducting background checks
- Pre-employment drug testing and physical exams
- Checking motor vehicle records for violations
- Implementing road and written driving tests
- Validating past employment history and safety records
You may also want to consult your legal staff to confirm that your screening process is compliant with the background check laws in your state.
Employees as drivers are easily identified. But be careful not to overlook those drivers who use rental or personal vehicles for business reasons. And monitor those employees using your vehicles for personal use during off-hours. By being aware of who is driving on your behalf, you will minimize any fleet safety risks.
Driver training program
Having a documented driver training process is key. You can use driver scorecards to increase engagement and improve safety metrics. Utilizing an operator safety management solution, you can configure scorecards to manage driver behaviors that impact the business. Some examples are speeding, aggressive turning, excessive idling and hard braking. Introducing a gamification program can also help to encourage positive driver behavior. By tallying scorecard metrics, you can create a leaderboard and allow drivers to earn rewards like bonuses, gift cards and other items.
Fleet safety technology
Dash cameras are essential to any vehicle fleet safety program. However, by taking it a step further with AI video, you can leverage artificial intelligence, G-force sensors and 360-degree video to detect and alert drivers to risky behaviors. These integrated telematics systems enable you to have faster response times when crashes occur and greater visibility into driver behavior. Other fleet safety program elements include advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), consisting of features like pedestrian detection, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind-spot detection, and parking sensors.
Operator safety guidelines
Safety measures should include guidelines around distracted driving, safety restraints, and defensive driving. Another primary focus area is fatigue risk management. That’s because as many as 13% of commercial truck drivers are fatigued at the time of a crash, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
So, consider incorporating policies around fatigue risk management, including:
- Ensuring appropriate staffing levels
- Setting a maximum number of overtime and consecutive shifts
- Developing a workplace sleep disorder screening and management program
- Providing training on sleep health and fatigue management
- Allowing for rest breaks and napping during extended work shifts
Because truck drivers are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in an accident while texting or using a cell phone, a robust mobile phone policy is necessary. In fact, a survey of fleet crash rates revealed that the top safety performers are companies with policies enacting a total ban on cell phone use. And substantial consequences, including termination, for employees who violate those policies.
Accident response plan
Define an accident response protocol, so drivers are prepared to respond to and report accidents. Your plan should include processes for:
- Medical care if needed
- Accident investigation and reporting
- Communicating the occurrence
- Recovery and return
- Preventative measures
Make sure your drivers retain evidence, documents and communication during the events that follow an accident to help your business mitigate losses.
Fleet safety analytics
The ability to view trends can help assess the impact of new safety investments and policies. Fleet analytics deliver key performance indicators to you in real-time about your mobile workforce, fleet assets, and operations to optimize customer experiences and drive business growth. Some examples of safety analytics include:
- Hard turning events
- Rapid acceleration events
- Speeding threshold overage duration
Fleet safety analytics also help when managing compliance requirements. For example, having access to a driver log can help prevent hours of service violations. And viewing vehicle inspection data can help you stay ahead of costly repairs.
Preventative maintenance program
A proper maintenance program can help reduce costly unexpected breakdowns and avoid accidents due to faulty equipment. This involves putting a system in place to track and document all vehicle maintenance activities. Be sure to retain accurate records in the event of an accident, including:
- Pre and post-trip vehicle inspections
- State and local inspection reports
- Maintenance logs for the vehicle
- Repair work performed on the vehicle
You may even want to consider an integrated solution that provides repair alerts when an issue arises, or the vehicle needs routine maintenance. A digital inspection app can also streamline daily inspections and maintenance initiation for vehicles and equipment.
New research links specific fleet safety program elements with significantly lower rates of work-related crashes. If you don’t have a vehicle fleet safety program in place, you may be putting the welfare of your employees and company at risk. By being proactive, you will experience better accountability, increased fleet safety, and reduced operational expenditures.