10 Ways to Create a Safety Culture Among Fleet Drivers
It’s pretty clear drivers know how to drive safely. Training doesn’t inform as much as it reinforces. Establishing a safety culture among fleet drivers will strengthen that reinforcement, and save money, too.
Safe driver training is an important part of any fleet policy. Whether from behind the wheel, online, or in a classroom meeting, showing drivers what they should and should not be doing while driving is a fleet policy must.
Let it be said that drivers already know how to drive safely: They know how to obey traffic signals, drive defensively, not exceed the speed limit, not insist on the right of way, and not drink and drive. Safe driving is as much common sense as it is a skill to be learned. But amidst the bustle of a business day, as drivers must meet scheduled appointments, check messages, and return calls, safe driving thoughts tend to move to the back of the line.
One way fleet managers can counter this is via safe driver training. Another way is to ingrain a culture of safety at the company. Here are 10 ways this can be accomplished.
1. Start with Communication
Making safety a part of the corporate culture begins with communication. Much as safety is part and parcel of every day in a manufacturing plant, so too should it be part of a sales, service, job site, or delivery function and included in every meeting, e-mail, publication, and policy.
Drivers and managers should leave every meeting and conference call with safe driving on their collective minds.
There are a number of ways a fleet manager can incorporate safety in day-to-day communications. Here are some ideas:
● A safety slogan in an e-mail signature, or key statistics relating to safe driving.
● A safety session, or at least mention of safety, in every meeting or conference call.
● Newsletters - both companywide as well as fleet-specific - should have a strong emphasis on safety.
● Contests: recognition and/or prizes for safe driving records (no violations, no chargeable accidents, etc., for a specified period of time).
The point is twofold: Repetition of the safety message serves to increase day-to-day awareness and also creates the safety culture fleet managers seek.
2. A Fleet Policy is Necessary
Company fleet policy is an excellent vehicle (pun intended) for enveloping drivers in a safe driving culture. A formal fleet policy should contain certain elements to help foster a safe driving culture:
● Seat belt policy.
● MVR reviews, both for new drivers as well as ongoing reviews for existing drivers.
● Safe driver training.
● Accident review committee, to determine chargeability.
● Personal use limits/allowance.
The prominence safety and safety-related items have in a fleet policy document will reflect how seriously the company views safety: Is it just another item in a policy, or is it truly a deeply ingrained part of corporate culture?
Keep in mind a safety culture includes both the positive and the negative. Consequences for violations of safety policy must be clear, simple, and most important, consistently and universally applied; drivers must know their performance and attention to policy are scrutinized.
3. Institute a Seat Belt Policy
At the top of every fleet manager's list should be a seat belt policy: Every driver and every passenger in every fleet vehicle must buckle up before it moves. This point should not only be policy, but should extend beyond driving fleet vehicles to personal vehicles as well. Focus on the safety aspect of the policy as well as the responsibility drivers have for the safety of others, including family and friends.
More than one company has gone as far as tracking drivers entering the office over a period of time - how many were buckled in or were not - and publishing the results for everyone. Extending the policy beyond fleet drivers is a good idea as well.
4. Safety Critical in Vehicle Selection
Most fleets, to one extent or another, use safety as criterion for vehicle selection; crash test results are one example. Unless drivers and their managers know this, it doesn't feed a safety culture.
Ensure everyone knows when the company puts employees behind the wheel, safety is a consideration in determining what the wheel is attached to.
A safe driving culture is a two-way street. It isn't just demanding drivers conduct themselves in the safest manner possible, it also includes the company providing employees with the safest vehicles that can do the job.
A tangent to vehicle selection is equipment. Spec'ing vehicles with safety equipment adds to company belief that driver safety is a paramount consideration.
5. Recognition for Extraordinary Safety Accomplishments
It is true enough that driving safely is part of the job, so why recognize and/or reward employees for simply doing the job? It is not suggested drivers be rewarded each day, week, or month simply for not having accidents, or not being cited for traffic violations.
Rather, recognize drivers for extraordinary safety records, such as years of clean records or no accidents. This helps develop a safety culture.
Recognition can come in any number of forms:
● Featured in a company newsletter or other publication.
● Press release to local news outlets.
● Commendation from the CEO or other senior executive.
● Monetary or other awards (gifts, suspension of personal use charges, etc.).
These are just a few ways exemplary safety records can be recognized and rewarded. Once again: Drivers who see safety rewarded will know, first, their driving records are being scrutinized, and second, the company sees safe driving as a basic element of the corporate culture.