The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Departmental Competition Can Increase Fleet Safety

Rules, regulations, and policies are all part of a comprehensive fleet safety program. Introducing the element of competition, where possible, can enhance the culture of safety, and can be fun, too.

July 2011, by Staff

At a Glance

Some steps to creating a interdepartmental safety competition include:

  • Determine participating departments.
  • Define the safety metrics used for scoring.
  • Launch the contest companywide.
  • Communicate “standings” regularly.
  • Announce winners publicly.

There are a number of key elements in any fleet safety program: clearly defined goals, a comprehensive policy document, senior management endorsement, rewards for exemplary performance, and consequences for non-compliance, among many others. All these elements contribute to a program’s success.

How, then, can a fleet manager add a little zest to the goals of a program that can be dry and are often taken for granted? One way to capture the interest of everyone concerned is to introduce some competition among the various departments covered by the policy, tracking performance and rewarding the “winners.”

Leverage Departmental Pride

Safe driving reward programs are usually targeted at individuals; driving reports are tracked from pre-hire on, violations noted, consequences applied, and performance rewarded where applicable. While there is certainly merit in this approach, it pits one employee against others, and does little to encourage the sense of teamwork and common purpose that should be part of any companywide program.

For some companies, the fleet is homogenous — meaning all drivers, at one level or another, are part of the same function. Whether it be sales, service, production, or delivery, there is a certain departmental pride — a common purpose within those for whom driving is part and parcel of the job.

Sometimes, however, the fleet encompasses several different missions performed by several different departmental functions (some or all of those mentioned above, for example). Where this is the case, fleet managers can take advantage of these natural rivalries by introducing a competitive safe driving reward contest, which pits these departments against each other in friendly but important competition — with the overall goal of driving safely.

Define Safety Metrics to Use

The first step in introducing this type of competition is to carefully define the metrics used to measure performance. Most existing safety metrics can be used, but in the interest of simplicity it is best to cull the number down to two or three (remember — someone has to keep score!). Here are two of the simpler metrics that can be used:

Violations: Traffic infractions, ranging from equipment violations right on up to the more serious violations, such as DUI or reckless driving.

Chargeable accidents: This assumes the safety policy defines what is and is not chargeable to the driver. While overall accidents can be used, chargeable accidents are a better measure of safe driving, as they’ll reveal a lack of defensive driving techniques as well as out-and-out fault.

It is likely truly different departments will have different vehicle counts; one might have several hundred, or thousands, while another may have far fewer. Thus, it isn’t quite fair to use absolute numbers, but rather a ratio of the metric to miles driven. The most common is millions of miles driven, i.e., violations per million miles, or accidents per million miles. This will take into account the relative sizes of the various departments’ fleets when “keeping score” and awarding prizes.

It is best to keep things as simple as possible, but it is true that some violations are more serious than others. A ticket for an expired registration isn’t necessarily an indication of unsafe driving; a speeding or tailgating citation certainly is. Taking this into consideration will also help make the contest fairer and more representative of actual performance. Scoring the violation metric can be done by assigning additional weight to more serious violations and less weight to others. A speeding violation, for example, can be counted as 1.5 and a ticket for an expired registration 0.5, or something of that nature. This will help to better reflect what the violations actually represent vis-a-vis safety.

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