The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Fleet Safety 101: What Every Fleet Manager Ne

July 2004, by Staff

Fleet safety involves a number of often-complex processes: screening drivers, safety training, reward/penalty programs, and capturing and tracking data. The following are some basic items that form the foundation of a fleet safety program:

  • Proper Licensing. Most fleets, screen new hire driving records, but, some don’t follow up. Review the driving records for all employees assigned or authorized to drive company-provided vehicles.
  • Seat Belt Policy. The easiest, most effective way to keep drivers safe is instituting a formal written policy that requires all drivers and passengers to wear seat belts at all times. Enforce the policy using surveys and spot checks. Make certain that there are consequences for not following the policy.
  • Vehicle Selection/Specification. Put the right vehicles with the right equipment into service. Vehicles that are too small, underpowered, or under-equipped can decrease acceleration and increase stopping distances, creating dangerous situations. Improper load carrying capacity can reduce visibility with similar risks.
  • Enforce Policy Across the Board. “But he/she’s our best sales rep!” How often have fleet managers heard that response when enforcing consequences for unsafe driving? Once an exception is made, other requests will follow based upon the driver’s job performance or, in some cases, position in the company. Secure senior management approval for your fleet safety policy and enforce it without exception.
  • Keep Vehicles Properly Maintained. Maintain vehicles according to your preventive maintenance schedule and track compliance via exception reports, if possible, and regular condition reports. Safety-related maintenance and repair on equipment such as tires and brakes is critical in reducing the risk of damage and/or injury. Request that the driver’s immediate supervisor sign off on condition reports, and implement a follow-up procedure to make sure that dangerous conditions are dealt with promptly.
  • Territories. Drivers must be familiar with their territories, a particular issue in companies with high driver turnover. Drivers unfamiliar with the territory will often be distracted, trying to follow written directions or read maps when they should be concentrating on driving.
  • Preventability, Not Fault. Often a driver’s first reaction when involved in an accident is “but it wasn’t my fault!” The issue should not be fault; but preventability. Thoroughly train drivers in defensive driving techniques. They should know that in every circumstance, they will be judged not on whether the accident was their fault, but whether they did everything possible to avoid the accident.

    Using these simple basics, fleet managers can then build an effective fleet safety policy, which in turn will reduce the number of accidents and keep their drivers, and the public at large, safe.
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