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Fleet Policy is the DNA of Your Fleet

February 4, 2003, by Mike Antich

For the past several years, I have read with fascinationabout the human genome project, which seeks todecipher the DNA instructions that, along withenvironment, help to determine who we are as individuals.In the same vein, I believe that each fleet also has a DNAof sorts, which is comprised of the procedures andregulations that are codified in its corporate fleet policy. Itis these procedures and regulations that determine thetypes of fleet each of us operates and its characteristics.Think about it. By creating policy such as to who iseligible for a company vehicle, you are, in effect,determining the size of your fleet.In my discussions with fleet management companiesover the years, they tell me that the best-managed fleetstend to be those that adhere to a written fleet policy. Fleetpolicy is crucial and it should be part of each company’soverall business strategy. Every affected departmentshould be involved in the process of creating fleet policy.However, it is important to stress that it is the fleetmanager who should manage the policy creation process.Once a policy is established, it is your responsibilityto communicate it to your drivers. Each of your driversshould know the rules governing the use of a companyvehicle and what actions will be taken for noncompliance.An all too common problem is that thefleet manager communicates policy to the drivers’managers, but the word doesn’t get down to theindividual drivers. To avoid this problem, manycompanies teach policies and procedures regardingcompany vehicles as part of the new employeeorientation and provide printed fleet policy manualswith each vehicle.The Danger of Policy Exceptions
When dealing with driver-related problems, the lastthing you want to do is create a new problem in the courseof resolving one. The surest way to do so is to make anexception to your company’s vehicle usage policy.It is extremely important that the rules governing thewithdrawal of a company vehicle privilege beuniformly enforced for all employees. You should not setprecedent by allowing exceptions. If your companybecomes embroiled in litigation involving a companyvehicle because of a problem driver, these exceptions andprior policy precedents can be used against you. The mostcarefully developed policy can be torn to shreds by aprecedent-setting exception, which could be used to accuseyou and your company of negligent entrustment and/ornegligent retention.No policy can anticipate all possibilities, butconsistency in dealing with all the drivers assignedcompany vehicles at different locations is essential. Toaccomplish this, it is crucial for senior management to givethe fleet manager the appropriate authority to address noncomplianceby drivers and those departments’ assignedvehicles. This will go a long way toward reducing andsometimes eliminating driver compliance issues.The fleet manager must have the authority and backing ofupper management to address a driver’s inability to properlyoperate and maintain an assigned vehicle. This authorityallows the fleet manager to address violations of fleet policywithout approval or direction from upper management.If litigation occurs, the first thing an attorney is going toask is to review your company vehicle policy. With this inmind, it is critical that a fleet manager makes sure alldrivers uniformly adhere to company fleet policy. Thereshould be no exceptions to your company vehicle policies.This simple rule will make your job a lot easier and maysave you from a lot of potential grief.Let me know what you think.
[email protected]Sample Company Vehicle Policy and ProceduresManual Available for Sale
Automotive Fleet has developed a sample company vehiclepolicy and procedure manual. It is available for $120in a printed version or on a CD ROM, plus $9.95 for shippingand handling. You can order the handbook atwww.fleet-central.com or by calling (800) 724-4254.

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Mike Antich

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Mike has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and entered the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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